Initial Disclaimers: MTV Music Television, Daria, Beavis and Butt-head, and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc. Noggin and The N are trademarks of Noggin LLC, a division of Viacom International, Inc. All other titles, logos, and characters are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective copyright holders. This fanfic was created solely for entertainment purposes, and neither the webmaster or any other entity profits (or makes any money at all) from this site. My thanks to Glenn Eichler and Abby Terkhule and their genius collegues for their hard work and cooperation that resulted in the 'Daria' we enjoyed.
This story takes place towards the end of the Final Season, 'Prize Fighters' and 'Is It College Yet' have not (yet) happened as per the storyline which can be safely set sometime in the Spring,2001.
Chapter 1: Quinn in Doubt
Helen was alone in her office working on papers.
"Mrs. Morgantroper, Line One" the temporary receptionist
squawked over the speaker phone- her voice sounding like a laryngitic
" That's Morgendorffer! Hellooo! Sorry. Hello? Hello? Hello!? Damn
it, Euphemia, it's Line Seven!"Helen boiled as she tried the various
lines on the earphone.
"Well, they were all lit up, Mrs. Gropenmorger!" Euphemia
"Hello, Marianne!" Helen answered, her foul mood temporarily
" So glad you liked the flowers. . . and that you and your
son are fine after yesterday's labor. .. Don't be silly! It was no
sacrifice!" Helen insisted as she stapled the florist bill to the
expense account voucher on her desk.
"I'll line you up with someone!. ..Now don't worry about
us! As a mother, I know how important it is for you and your husband to
bond with your children so take all the time you need. ."Helen chirped.
"Mrs. Borgenmorpher. ." Euphemia squawked over the speakerphone.
" Like the next week! [click] Hello!? What, Euphemia?" Helen
"You said to let you know when your 3:30 arrived but I checked the
name and this person doesn't answer to Miss Quad Dorkengopher!"Euphemia
squawked- as she misread the words 'Miss Quinn Morgendorffer' written on the pad in front of her.
"Never mind, just send her in!" Helen snapped.
"Could you make it quick, Mom? Sandi's in the fire lane with the
motor running! We're doing a preliminary Cashman's run today so we can strategize for the whole Fashion Club tomorrow!"Quinn explained rather flippantly.
"Quinn, between Marianne giving birth and the temp service sending
us Mr. O'Neill's cousin, I'm in NO mood for. . ." Helen thundered as she
stands up at her desk to jab her index finger to intimidate Quinn.
"OK, Mo-om, chill!" Quinn insisted as she nervously flashes her
"I'd like to chill you permanently after this letter I got in
the office mail!" Helen explained-pounding her fist at the end.
" Letter? Is this another mother-daughter fashion show? I told
them that we wouldn't be entering but Tiffany and her mom will since Mrs. Mitsubishi isn't eight-months pregnant this time!" Quinn chirped.
" No, it's from the Oui-Swyp-Ewe Credit Card Accounting
Department"Helen snarled as she extracted a letter from a very large
envelope then holds up the letter to read.
"Mo-OM!" Quinn gulped as she tried to snatch the letter out of
Helen's right hand.
"'Dear Mrs. Morgendorffer, We regret to inform you that we have
failed to receive our minimum payments for your co-signer Miss Quinn
Morgendorffer's account thus we are terminating her credit card!'" Helen
boiled as she waved the letter above Quinn's head while reading it.
"But. .." Quinn gulped.
" How many times have I told you to make the minimum payments and
NOT spend more than you earn!" Helen seethed as she brought her arm down
to the desk with letter tightly clutched in hand.
"I think about ten or fif. ." Quinn chuckled.
"OOOH!" Helen exploded as she pounded the desk with both fists.
" But, Mo-om! I did my best to take care of things, honest!" Quinn
"Oh, yes! 'P.S. Enclosed is Miss Morgendorffer's 8 by 10 headshot.
Inform her that this is an unacceptable substitute for timely monthly
minimum payments. However, it was a boon to my wife's Ladies Dart Board
Tourney!'"Helen fumed as she pulled out the headshot from the
accompanying large envelope on her desk.
"[GASP] They impaled all my pores!" Quinn shuddered as she studied
the perforated photo.
"Quinn Morgendorffer, it's not just your credit that's been ruined.
I was on the phone all morning with those plastic pickpockets-
barely able to stop them foreclosing our house,"Helen seethed.
" Did you promise them another photo?" Quinn nervously laughed.
"Quinn, I had to take out a 2nd mortgage and virtually empty out our checking accounts and you girls' college account that your Dad and I've diligently set aside every month these past eighteen years! I don't know how I'm going to tell Daria !"Helen shuddered.
"Mo-om, how can you bring up her at a time like this?" Quinn
" Quinn, very carefully mind what you say! Let me remind you that
you are sitting in the office of a top law firm who'd pull just
about all legal angles to keep one of their best partners-to-be from
serving any time," Helen said in a low threatening voice.
"You mean. ..?" Quinn gulped as she frantically blinked her eyelids.
"That's right, Quinn. I brought you into this world, don't tempt me
to take you out of it! " Helen threatened as she sat down while Quinn
nervously did the same.
"PLEEZE, Mom! I'll do anything to make it up to you!" Quinn pleaded
as she shifted to her knees in front of the desk.
" Good! I've drawn up this contract that will dock $300 a month
from your salary until every dime's paid back- even if it means you'll
be the only senior citizen not wearing support hose to do it!" Helen
thundered as she drew out the contract.
"But, Mo-om, there's no way I can pay that much monthly with
babysitting the Guptys!" Quinn gulped.
"You had no problem spending multiples of that monthly!" Helen
"But. ." Quinn shuddered.
" I know you don't make that much with the Guptys so I've added a
few others to your babysitting rounds," Helen declared as she unveiled a
large mounted graph with detailed times and names next to her desk.
" The Landon children? Sandi's brothers? Marianne's son?" Quinn
" Frank," Helen suddenly remembered as she inked his
" Tiffany's little half-sister Orchid Mitsubishi? Mo-om, except for the
Guptys and Landons, these are all babies and brats!" Quinn groaned.
" Takes one to know 'em!" Helen sighed.
"But I won't have time to. .."Quinn gulped.
" Date the Three J's, shop, goof off or be in the . ."Helen
insisted as she counted her off her aloft left fingers with her right
"NO! I can't give up the Fashion Club! I'd die!" Quinn burst into
" You've already come close to that today! I'm not falling for
your TV movie melodramatics!" Helen insisted.
" But Sandi's waiting for me and we're going to Cashman's
Spring Near Summer Before Fall and Winter Sale!" Quinn pleaded.
"You've more clothes than most 3rd world countries as it is. I'm
keeping all credit, debit and check cards! Hand them over!" Helen
ordered- as Quinn nervously did so before Helen took out a
large pair of scissors and sliced them to ribbons.
" MO_OM!" Quinn burst into fresh tears.
"Tell Sandi to take you straight home and sit in your room until
dinnertime. And don't think I won't call up Linda to check Sandi's
" How will I live? " Quinn sobbed.
"Oh,you have plenty of things to live for- such as circling want
ads and studying to earn a good scholarship so you can get into a good
college to make good money to repay me!" Helen seethed.
"But. .." Quinn bawled.
" And if you try to charm a dime from your Dad, I'll drive you
straight to Juvenile Hall and have them feed you till you're eighteen!
I won't have you pester him-especially not today of all days!"Helen
"Umm" Quinn pondered.
"His birthday! Why d'you think I called your cell and had you meet
me here?" Helen seethed anew.
"You. ..wanted my advice on a present?" Quinn nervously chuckled and
flashed her teeth.
"You forgot!" Helen boiled.
"I didn't," Quinn stammered.
"Don't make this any harder. .." Helen insisted.
"I didn't mean to but didn't he have it a few months back?" Quinn
"Twelve! How could you forget this day?" Helen rhetorically
"Is it my fault that Cashman's didn't have its sale that day last
"Tell me you at least got something for him. You didn't!" Helen
"Mo-om! If you let me borrow one of your credit cards. . "Quinn
"No more credit cards, EVER!" Helen screamed as she jumped into her
chair's seat and flailed her arms at Quinn.
"But..Mo-om. Why punish Dad by not having me give him something?"
"Very well, but only because it's your father's birthday and
we're having guests whom I don't want seeing our dirty laundry! Here's
$50!" Helen snapped as she pounded her desk with the money.
"Mo-om! You can't expect a Fashion Club VP to use cash at
Cashman's?" Quinn gasped.
"Take it and a sabbatical from the Club or I personally'll have
Sandi expell you from it!" Helen boiled.
"Done!" Quinn gulped as she hastily signed her contract with Helen.
"Be home for the birthday dinner by 6 sharp, gift in hand, or
I'll hunt you down!"Helen insisted in a low voice.
"Mrs. Porkenloapner," Euphemia buzzed.
"Say, how about hiring me as the temp receptionist til Marianne get
back?" Quinn asked.
" I can stand her garbling better than the sight of you these days!" Helen
seethed- as Quinn quickly left her office.
"You keep me late and nearly give me worry lines while I have
to explain to the officer the important reason why I'm parked here, then
you interrupt me," Staci seethed.
"Er. .sorry," Quinn gulped, in no mood to be evacerated twice in one
"Good, I'd hate to think you weren't able to concentrate on our
important research we're doing on behalf of the fashionably challenged!"
"Actually, I'm so honored you're here with me because I've taken
on a mission on behalf of a fashionably challenged older gentleman- my
Dad!"Quinn said with some relief at how easy she'd been able to
sidetrack Sandi's intial plan.
They entered the rather crowded Cashman's and Quinn saw a cashmere
sweater for $40 and jellyfish liquid facial foundation for $10 for a 5
ounce container and was all set to buy the two items when. ..
"That foundation would make make your skin look even more beautiful,
Ka-Winn. Do you think it would help me?" Sandi asked.
"I guess so, " Quinn replied.
"So, you're not sure that it would! Does that mean you think my
skin is beyond help?" Sandi accused.
"Don't be silly, Sandi?" Quinn replied.
"So now I'm silly! That's most ungrateful after my nearly getting
worry lines while waiting for you, before giving you a ride!"Sandi
"Since you put it that way, Sandi, I'll be happy to buy both of
us the 2 ounce foundation jars because as Fashion Club President and
Vice-President, we should have skin that glows in the dark!"
Quinn insisted as she switched the 5 ounce bottle for the two 2 ounce
"With sales and import taxes, that'll be $49.95, miss!" Monica, the purple-haired teen
" Here you go!" Quinn chirped as she plucked the two $20 bills and
single $10 on the counter .
"Here's your change!" Monica droned as she handed Quinn the
"Wait!" Quinn gasped in a panic.
"Sorry,all sales are final," Monica insisted.
"But the 5 ounce jar's only $10," Quinn tried to reason.
"That's the one on sale- not the 2 ounce ! Clear the register or
I'll have Security put you on The List!" Monica droned.
So, with a wave, the salesclerk dismissed Quinn.
"Gee, Ka-Winn, I hope you don't plan on further publicly shaming me here!"
"Don't worry, Sandi. There's just been a silly misunderstanding. I'll get
Customer Service to take care of all this! I'll catch up with you in a
little while!" Quinn proclaimed.
Sandi gave her a jaundiced glare and was about to insist on accompanying
Quinn when. . .
"Attention, Cashman Patrons, Nanook of Nome's Designer Mukluks are
marked off an additional 20 percent for the next half hour!" the loudspeaker
"I would help you fight this battle with Customer Service but at least
one of the Fashion Club must have these mukluks in time for winter-
you understand," Sandi sniffed.
"Don't worry, I'd never consider this a dereliction of duty. Seize the
Nome!"Quinn proclaimed as she waved Sandi off.
Quinn walked with the maroon cashmere sweater in hand to Customer
Service and held her breath. She was hoping one of the more flighty temps
would be manning it but no such luck today. The red beehived
60-year-old department head Mrs. C. Sarkisian was manning the counter.
Quinn dreaded her because she wore those rimmed glasses with a chain and
always had a pen and pencil securely poking from her red beehive, not to mention the fact that she had a very sharp jawline with a virtually triangular chin.
"Yeah, toots. What's the problem?" Mrs. Sarkisian growled while tapping
her manicured nails atop her nameplate.
"No problem, Miz Sarks I just need to buy this cashmere sweater for
Dad's birthday and bill it to my account,"Quinn chirped.
"Sorry, Miss M, no can do. Just got this fax from your mom saying that
she'd no longer be responsible for any future billings!" Mrs. Sarkisian
snapped- as she brought up the fax from below the counter.
"But it's for Dad's birthday !" Quinn wailed.
"We don't usually encourage it but tell ya what, toots! If you can find
some suck. ..er kind soul to charge it to their account, I can let you
have it!"Mrs. Sarkisian pondered.
"Great!" Quinn beamed- as she started to whip out her cellphone.
"Un-unh! Use this one! I insist!" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped as she
suddenly lifted up a large black metallic rotary-dialed telephone from
behind the counter and slung it on her desk so hard that it rang its bell
and shook the many photos of Mrs. Sarkisian's family.
"But. .." Quinn gulped.
"S'matta? You've never used a phone without a keypad before?"Mrs.
Sarkisian asked- as she adjusted her earpiece so she could monitor the
"The Guptys have one but. ..you want me to put my finger where
unpopular people have gone before?" Quinn asked in horror.
"Here! Make it snappy!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted as she brandished her
pencil from her beehive and handed it to Quinn who picked it up as though it
was from the bottom of a cesspool then gingerly used it to dial a number.
Inside a locked desk, a cellphone was heard to ring. The desk was part
of a hospital bedtray and Jamie White tried to reach for it but his broken
right arm was in a sling being adjusted by a comely,blonde nurse with
flashing green eyes.
"Cedars of Lawndale, Jamie White's room- Nurse Irís Sepulveda
speaking!" Irís answered with a slight Barcelonan accent.
"Is Jamie OK, I need to ask him a favor?" Quinn asked.
"Ku-- inh?!" Jamie groaned and struggled to reach for the phone.
"He's been in an altercation with two others today and needs his
"Tell him I like him and I'll visit him as soon as I can find an
outfit that won't clash or blend in with the hospital walls!" Quinn
"Oh. .ay!" Jamie wanly cheered.
"Since your voice is helping his morale, I'll convey your request!"
"Great! There's a $45 sweater at Cashman's I need so if he could give
out his charge card number and consent, I'd be more than happy to kiss his
cheekbone next time I see him!" Quinn chirped.
"Oh, oy!" Jamie yelped.
"I'm sorry but neither he nor his amigos can help. However, you might tell them to save some green scrubs til my shift ends at eight," Irís fumed as she abruptly hung up the phone whilst the three J's in various states of injuries wanly pleaded with her not to do so.
"I need to exchange this-" Mrs. Johannsen screamed in line behind Quinn
as she brandished a red spandex tube top mutilated from bursting.
"Not now! It's an emergency !" Quinn pleaded while Mrs. Johannsen
"So's my love life!" snapped Mrs. Johannsen.
"Celeste, while I'm pretending I didn't hear that , Miss
Morgendorffer can try again," shuddered Mrs. Sarkisian.
Quinn silently prayed for better luck this time while the metal dial
made its grinding sound. .
"Hello, Stacy!" Quinn chirped.
"Quinn. Is that you? Sorry I couldn't make it today but I'm busy
organizing my wardrobe to make room and. .." Stacy prattled on her cell.
"Listen, Stacy, I need a big favor. I want to buy a sweater for Dad's
birthday but I'm a little short so could you give them your charge card
number then I can pay you back?" Quinn asked while her right arm was getting
weary holding the ancient metal receiver.
"That would be no problem, Quinn!" Stacy beamed.
"Great, this is about the nicest thing a friend's done for me!"Quinn
"Er. .. about the nicest? You mean I haven't done enough?" Stacy
"Don't be silly, Stacy! You've done more than enough!" Quinn replied
with a slight tremor.
"Oh, no! If you don't think I'm the nicest, that means Tiffany barely
tolerates me and Sandi hates me with a passion!" Stacy sniffed.
"That's not true at all," Quinn earnestly replied.
"So, not only am I not a nice person, I'm also a liar! Oh, no! Now
I'll be shunned from the Fashion Club and cast into. . the . .UNpopular crowd!
What'll I do, Quinn?" Stacy burst into tears.
"Stacy. ." Quinn tried to say.
"It was good being friends with you Quinn! Save yourself from being
dragged down by the likes of me!" Stacy bawled and hyperventilated as she hung up the phone.
"Miss Morgendorffer. .." Mrs. Sarkisian thundered as she started to grab
the phone from Quinn's hands while the line behind Mrs. Johannsen was
already out the door of the department.
"One more, please!"Quinn wailed.
"Oh, alright but if you don't get a buyer this time, I'm keeping the
sweater behind the counter and you'll have to get at the back of the line
for further service!" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped.
"Hello, Tiffany?" Quinn asked a few moments later with dozens of angry
pairs of eyes glaring at her.
"Quinn," Tiffany answered as she was painting her toenails.
"I need to get a sweater for Dad's birthday today and I'm a little
short so could you give Cashman's your credit card number so they can charge
you? I'll pay them back," Quinn nervously chirped.
"Of. .course. ..I. .will . .be . .. hap- py. ..to" Tiffany replied as
she put down the polish brush and went for her credit card.
"This is Mrs. Charmaine Sarkisian, Customer Service Director at
Cashman's. I'll need your name as it appears on your card," Mrs. Sarkisian
insisted as she put the tiny mouthjack near her mouth while starting to type
the info into her computer console.
"Su- ure! It's.. .Tih-fah-nnh-nny. . . Bl-l-l-uhm. .Deh-eh-eck-ler,"
"Could you spell it out?" Mrs. Sarkisian asked.
"Eye. ..Tee," answered Tiffany.
"Hah-hah-hah, I meant your name," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted with
"'T' as in. ..turquoise. .and. .topaz. .and tiara. Do you sell.
.turquoise. topaz . .tiaras?" Tiffany asked.
"I think I can manage the first name. Your surname, please!" Mrs.
"It's 'B' as in bauble. .and bubble. 'L' as in. .loungewear. .'U' as
in. ."Tiffany spelled out.
"B-L-U-M! GOT that! Is Deckler D-E-C-K or D-E-K-K-L-E-R?""Mrs.
Sarkisian snapped as getting closer to boiling.
"Um. .. .. you don't have to shout. .! I lost my place! I'll have
to start over. 'T' as in tur-"Tiffany started.
"BAAH!!" Mrs. Sarkisian exploded as she abruptly grabbed the metal
receiver from Quinn's right hand and slammed the phone down.
"But Mrs. Sarkisian. .?" Quinn wailed.
" I've wasted way too long with this crap! Go outside and try
to find someone on your own- then get back to the end of the line!"Mrs.
"You don't mean. .?" Quinn asked.
"That's right!"Mrs. Sarkisian replied.
"[GASP] The Doorway Bench!" Quinn wailed as Mrs. Sarkisian pointed
her to it.
" I don't want to be seen with old ladies in saggy hose waiting for
busses and brats jumping up and down waiting for their moms to finish
shopping, when will this torment end?" Quinn wailed as she left but saw no
So,she disheartenedly and slowly walked her way to the Doorway Bench
between the inside and outside Cashman store doors, taking her headscarf and
sunglasses out of her purse so no one would mistake her for anyone beside
'Quinnie O'! She looked at her Pocket Pilot and saw another name.
At that moment, in Washington D.C. Jodie Landon was happily sitting in
a prestigious auditorium. While she was honored to be there and receive her
latest commendation, she was more grateful that this meant her parents
Andrew and Michelle were too busy gloating to nag her their usual quotas
today. Jodie was next to the aisle wearing her Grandma Jessup's finest pearl
necklace in addition to her most formal dress and blouse. Michelle was in
her usual business suit but with Egyptian gold earrings seated to the right
of her elder daughter with the preteen Rachel in her Sunday best seated on
their mother's right side and the toddler Evan in sitting to his next elder
sister's right but with their black-suited and proud father Andrew resting
his left hand on his son's shoulder. None of them had any the slightest
inkling what humiliation was ready to befall them the next moment. That's
when Jodie's cellphone rang. The speaker stopped the speech and 600 pairs of
eyes from all over the auditorium glared at her. Jodie knew she had no time
to waste as she looked at the cell's display.
"Jodie, can. .?" Quinn started to say over the cell.
"Quinn, I'm in DC moments away from Maya Angelou giving me a plaque from
George Washington U. ."Jodie whispered.
"Eww! Why would you want George Washington's plaque-even with a Mayan angel channeling it?", " Quinn cringed as she hung up the phone.
"Sorry, everyone," Jodie apologized in a normal tone.
"Jodie, how could you forget at a time like this to turn that cell
'off-off'"hissed her angry mother Michelle while Evan and Rachel were cracking up laughing at their oldest sibling's embarassment.
"I didn't! I forgot that Quinn's cell has 'Off-Off Override'!" Jodie
Back in Lawndale, a phone rang and a hand was seen
putting down a hair dryer. The hand belonged to Brittany Taylor and she had
been using it to dry out a pom-pom.
"Hello, Brittany? It's me, Quinn!" Quinn chirped- a little more
desperately than usual.
"Hi, Quinn," Brittany squeaked.
"Listen, I'm at Cashman's and I'm a little short of funds at the moment
and I need to get a sweater for someone so could you give out your credit
card number and buy it for me? I'll try to back you back real soon!" Quinn
"Sure ! Who's the sweater for?" Brittany asked as she started
twirling the ends of her hair.
"It's for Dad's birthday today!" Quinn explained.
"I didn't know it was his birthday!" Brittany squealed.
" Well, it is. ." Quinn replied.
"Hmm, how come you know it's his birthday but I don't?"Brittany
"Because it's for my Dad and I'm his daughter!" Quinn replied.
"So you want me to buy your Dad a present on Daddy's birthday? At least Kevin spent his own money buying his Dad a present on Daddy's birthday! Hmmph!" Brittany snapped as she hung up on Quinn.
At that moment, Daria and her friends, the two youngest Lanes of her
generation were walking down a sidewalk pulling a red wagon with several
"Shouldn't we be meeting Wally and the Beav right about now?" Daria
"Come on, it's only another block! You two could use some exersion.
Keeps the mind active!" Jane proclaimed as she continued to pull the
"Sorry 'bout the Tank dying!" Trent shrugged.
"We couldn't have fit these presents in your regular car," Jane
"Besides, we're probably getting back home faster this way!" Daria
"And this is a good thing, Morgendorffer?" Jane laughed.
"Whoa, Janey! Her folks are having us celebrate Mr. M's big day an'
Daria needs our support!" Trent countered.
"She knows I'm kidding," Jane laughed.
" Mom said Quinn and I could each have some friends over. I guess
she didn't want to chance me running out on them with the friends
they've invited," Daria explained.
"And since Tom's debate team's away this week in Switzerland. ." Jane
"I'd have had you all over. Since Quinn's Fashion Fiends will be
there," Daria groaned.
"At least you don't have to worry about Jamie-Jeffy-Joey," Jane
"Yeah, but with them in traction, there goes half my tutoring
payments!" Daria groaned.
Quinn was desperate! It was 5:45- only fifteen minutes before she was
due back home and here she was stuck in the Doorway Bench with no gift
for Jake in hand. She saw the number and keyed it in. She knew it could
cause trouble but it couldn't be worse than what she'd have to endure
coming home sans gift.. .
"Who'd be calling? Don't they know he's in Switzerland?" Jane
"Someone volunteering for cuckoo duty," Daria deadpanned as she saw
Quinn's number on the cellphone display.
"It's me, Quinn! I'm sorry I got your number off of Mom's Caller ID
from the time you called to let Daria know you'd be late but since your
family's loaded and I'm broke, I REALLY need you to. .." Quinn spilled
"Quinn," Daria replied.
"And whatever you do, don't tell Daria I called because she'd
kill me if she found out I was begging for you to charge a sweater at
Cashman's for Dad's birthday but I forgot his birthday and Mom's
Already.. ." Quinn prattled on.
"QUINN!" Daria repeated.
"What happened to your voice? OMIGAWD! Daria what are you doing
with Tom's cell?" Quinn gasped.
"Tom left it with me for safekeeping while he's in Switzerland.
. Never mind that, what do you mean you forgot Dad's birthday?" Daria
" Well, with all theses sales and everything, it just flew out of my
mind. Anyway, I've got fifteen minutes before Dad's birthday dinner and
I don't have a gift so could I borrow. ..?" Quinn begged.
"No," Daria groaned.
"What? But I can't come back empty-handed!" Quinn pleaded.
"What part of-. .?" Daria started.
"Oh, don't tell me you're going to give me that tired old 'what
part of no don't I understand' line!" Quinn snapped.
"No, I was going to ask you what part of bor-row don't you
understand? I could pay Harvard in cash if you paid back
half what you owe me," Daria grumbled.
At that very moment back at Cashman's Doorway Bench.
"Ka-Winn!" Sandi sneered.
"[GASP]!" Quinn gasped and hung up her cell.
"Calling that cousin/sister/whatever who lives at your house?"
"I was merely about to hang up on a solicitor! Are you ready?"
"Ka-Winn, save your stories for a magazine lay-out. I know all
about your preDICament! When I phoned Tiffany, she was spelling out her
name and then I called Stacy and she was apologizing for not being the
Fashion Club's best friend ever," Sandi sneered.
"You put two-and-two together from that?" Quinn asked in
" In addition, Mother phoned me of how your mother has enlisted
you to corral my monster siblings. Since you'll be sparing me of that
unfashionable yoke, I'm willing to forgive you for not coming to me with
your. . .problem" Sandi insisted- as she pushed several large Cashman's
bags in Quinn's lap.
"Oh, that's so wonderful of you, Sandi! Does this mean you'll help
me by buying that sweater for Dad?" Quinn asked.
"No, my funds are marked for more noble purposes, but I will aid you
in your quest. Come with me, Ka-Winn, before someone fashionable sees
us at the Doorway Bench!" Sandi ordered as she breezed ahead of Quinn
while Quinn struggled with the Cashman's bags.
Upon reaching Sandi's convertable, Quinn put the bags in the
"We only have ten minutes before I'm due home!"Quinn pleaded.
"If you could allow a little pay-tience, I could solve your
predicament," Sandi sneered- as she pressed a lever and opened her
"You have something in your trunk? "Quinn gasped.
"If you prefer going home emptyhanded. ."Sandi sniffed.
"No, not at all. I'm very grateful for this," Quinn insisted.
Sandi started walking towards her trunk and Quinn followed her-
hoping it wasn't going to be a spare tire or jack she'd have to give
Jake. She was relieved. Sandi had totally emptied and cleaned her trunk
of everything save for one rather large bottle.
"Since your Dad's of the Old School, he might appreciate some
classic scent! Could I have some assistance?" Sandi asked as she
motioned Quinn to help her take out the large bottle.
" 'Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox Aftershave'? Where did you get this?" Quinn
asked as she saw the gallon-sized bottle's label with a picture
of the folklore lumberjack and ox and struggled with the bottle-
complete with wheels on the bottom.
"Are you questioning the source of your salVAYtion, Ka-Winn?" Sandi
asked as they set it on the parking lot asphalt.
"I'd never do that, Sandi. Was it from that three day period
when you went retro?" Quinn asked.
"Ka-Winn!" Sandi boiled," For the millionth time, I, Sandi Griffin,
have NEVER 'gone retro'. I was in that revived classic attire because of that
"It just seems odd that 'Waif' would send you a 1947 issue and
you wouldn't see the date because it being covered by the address label-
for three days," Quinn pondered.
"In any case, at the time I purchased this gift, I thought it
would go for a good cause. That's all you need to know," Sandi
sighed as she swallowed a tear.
For a few moments, Sandi thought back to that time in which
shedressed up like a 1940's movie star and presented this large bottle
to. that feodoraed, zoot-suited, vintage-snob. .. Nathan.
"You thought that I'd like this industrial swill? Nathan sneered.
"The clerk at Forgotten Scents said that it was a favorite of 1940's
Hollywood types," Sandi pleaded.
"For grips and set builders wanting to impress their floozies at the
automat by using this to cover up not taking the time to shower! You
may look like a less-perky version of a young Lauren Bacall, but you
don't have what it takes to be worthy of being seen with me!" Nathan
sneered as he abruptly opened the door then revved up his vintage convertable-
leaving Sandi all alone as she burst into tears.
"Um. Are you alright, Sandi?" Quinn asked.
"Fine! We need to get this wrapped and deposit you home. Luckily, I
always carry wrapping paper so when I unwrap my clothes, they'll look
even better than how the store wrapped them!" Sandi beamed as she and
Quinn wrapped the gallon-sized bottle.
"I never knew you'd purchase cologne in bulk," Quinn giggled.
"Expanded sample, Quinn! Expanded !" Sandi groaned.
"Hmm," Jane hmmed as the trio was rounding the corner.
"What? You think I should have done the sisterly thing and given
Quinn a break?" Daria asked.
"I didn't say anything. Just 'hmm'," Jane replied.
" Come on," Daria scoffed.
"Actually, I was going to ask you about your cell-guard duty. Any
other odd calls?" Jane asked.
"Just a few recordings telling him he's won trips,"Daria replied.
"Speaking of trip. Wait til you girls hear what I've composed for
Mr. M's birthday!" Trent beamed.
"Trent, you want them to invite us back! " Jane cautioned.
" My folks do serve things found on the Food Pyramid!" Daria
"Okay, I'll just save it for another time," Trent groaned while
Daria gave him a fraternal pat on the shoulder.
"Dear God," Daria sighed.
"You want me to sing?" Trent asked.
"No, look who my folks invited! The Yeagers," Daria groaned as
each group came into the Morgendorffer driveway and she saw that VW Beetle pull up.
"Those are the people you fled like they were Ebola carriers?
Never knew you were a snob! You are Quinn's sister!" Jane sneered.
"Janey, don't dis Daria so quick. They look cool, though," Trent
" I wasn't being a snob! I just knew that they and my folks
would try to fake being wild hippies- and I wanted no part of the
scene!" Daria scoffed.
"Daria, you sure have. ..matured since we last saw you! Who are your
compadres?" Coyote Willow asked as he got out of the car and bearhugged
"Jane and Trent Lane," Daria replied- barely maintaining her
Daria thought about bolting but. .
"Hey, you two! How was your trip?" Jake asked as he bounded out of the Morgendorffer House in a suit.
"Not as great as the trips we used to take!"Coyote chortled while
Jake and Helen sheepishly did their best to cooly fake laughs.
"Oh, God," Daria groaned as she covered her face.
"Um.. he meant the trips we all took to the . .. Grand Canyon!
Right, Coyote?" Helen nudged while gritting her teeth-and nudging
"Whatever turns you on. .er yeah. .we just loved that .. Grand
Canyon!" Coyote sheepishly replied.
"Say, where's Willow?" Helen asked.
"She's not up for travelling cos she's doing a bit of prenatal care-"Ethan started to say.
"Jane, Trent, these are our old chums Coyote and Ethan Yeager!" Jake
introduced- while Jane's eyes suddenly enlarged.
" We met once! Mr. Yeager. ."Trent started.
"Please, dude. It's Coyote!" Coyote insisted.
" Didn't you and your wife used to sell turquoise rings with secret
compartments outside Taos?"Trent asked.
"That's right," Ethan replied.
" I remember my folks hiking with my older sisters and brother-
while Mom carried me in a knapsack like a papoose. She bought one of your
rings and I remember teethin' on it!" Trent insisted.
"Mom's always had unconventional nutrition ideas," Jane laughed.
"Come inside everyone! I've got dinner ready!" Helen invited.
"But can't I open the presents first , Helen?" Jake asked.
"Not until after dinner!" Helen insisted.
"But you always make me wait for them, Christmas, Anniversary,
Father's Day! Today's my BIRTHday! Please ! Mom never put off my opening
presents. ..at least when Dad wasn't around,"Jake insisted.
"Oh, alright! We'll go inside the living room and open the presents!"
Helen boiled- not wanting the neighbors to see this scene.
The Lanes, Yeagers and all the resident Morgendorffers sans
Quinn went inside.
"What's inside the box, Helen? Come on, Helen! Don't make me guess!"
Jake insisted as he eagerly grabbed the large oblong box.
"Your dad's sure restrained,"Ethan commented under his breath to
" I wish he were !" Daria shuddered.
"New golf clubs!" Jake eagerly enthused as he grabbed one out of
"Titanium so you can't bend or break them in frustration . .Jake
NOT in the house!" Helen groaned as Jake he stopped his swing. .but not
in time to keep from shattering the fruit bowl atop the coffee table.
Daria shook her head and wished that she and the Lanes were
anywhere but there- and was jealous of Quinn for being late enough to
"Dad, here's Tom's gift!" Daria deadpanned- hoping it would
distract everyone else.
" It's an 1869 Union Pacific Transcontinental Locomotive! Man, that's
going to be smokin' on the Big Jake Express! Toot Toot!" Jake yelled
and pulled an imaginary whistle chain as he opened the package with the
model inside while Helen and Daria cringed.
"Jake, here's something Ethan made that we'd like you to have!"
Coyote added as he pulled out a breadbox sized hemp bag.
"Aw, a hemp bag? That's so rad !" Jake shouted with glee.
"No, Mr. Morgendorffer, it's what's inside !" Ethan droned.
"Wow! These take me back! I love these sandals, " Jake
enthused as he started to take off his shoes and socks.
"Er. .Jake, you're in a suit," Helen admonished.
"But it's my birthday and this'll give me a chance to recapture my
youth! Look they fit my feet like gloves. How'dja remember my size was
10D?" Jake asked as he started running around the room in them.
" Mine,too," Ethan related.
Daria shook her head and shuddered for she knew what was coming
"Say, these look just like the ones you wore last time you
visited us!" Jake proclaimed.
"Cos, they are! I quit wearing 'em when I kept slipping
in 'em while rock climbing," Ethan explained as everyone but Coyote
took notice of his bare feet.
"Cool!" commented Trent as he gave Ethan a thumbs up.
"You mean?! EWWWWW!!!" Jake shuddered as he quickly ripped them
off his feet then crawled on his knees.
"I only wore 'em to funerals, weddings, family vacations," Ethan shrugged.
"Don't sweat it. He freaked over my toothbrush. Nothing personal,"
Trent scoffed while Jake had made his way on his knees to the kitchen
sink and had climbed atop it to wash and scrub his feet to Helen's
"Um.. very thoughtful of you. Jake just didn't realize how much
they clashed with his suit, "Helen groaned.
"Mom recycles and thought it would be better he'd get 'em than a
stranger," Ethan shrugged.
Jake dried off his feet then rejoined the rest momentarily while
Daria buried her head in her hands thinking the only thing to do next
"Here's something you might like,Dad," Daria said while she gave
Jake a package that he opened.
"'The New York Times Top 500 Crossword Puzzles of the 20th
Century!'- and you've done the hard parts already! Thanks, kiddo!" Jake
enthused-having bounced back to Helen's relief.
"Here's something from us Lanes to you Morgendorffers," Jane
enthused as she and Trent took out a very large framed package from the
Radio Flyer wagon.
Just outside the front door. .
"I don't think you'd be interested in Dad's birthday. His friends
are very UNfashionable," Quinn nervously chirped.
"Today, I feel that I must do my best to spread the fashion word .
Besides, are you saying that I'm good enough to risk getting worry lines
waiting for you, drive you to Cashman's then bestow upon you a gift for
your FAH-ther but I'm not good enough to join your family inside?" Sandi
"Don't be. .."Quinn started to say before Sandi's cellphone rang.
"Mother? . .But I've just been invited to Ka-Winn's Dad's birthday
.. the Dresden china, Persian rugs. .. washing machine. .. surely Ka-Winn
could. .. No, Mother, I guess you are right about us not needing
witnesses to their DE-struction! I'll be home at my earliest
conVENience," Sandi groaned.
"I'm sorry you can't make it to Dad's birthday!" Quinn replied-
doing her best not to let on her relief over Sandi not attending.
"As long as I can provide enlightenment to your family's
otherwise pedestrian and tedious lives by my gift, it will be reward
enough- even in my absence!" Sandi grandly proclaimed as she drove off
while Quinn had just enough time to struggle with the gigantic wrapped
aftershave bottle- with its card previously attached that she had
"Mom, I'm sorry I'm late but. .." Quinn gulped as she walked
into the house pushing a large wrapped box on PC hard drive wheels.
"Quinn, this better be a good present or else!" Helen
"Oh, it's something Dad will never forget!" Quinn chirped.
"Well, you missed the earlier part of the present opening so
you'll have to be last !" Helen boiled.
"Aw Helen, don't be so hard on her," Jake whined.
" Jake, being too easy on her has caused tons of problems!
We'll open Jane's present first," Helen seethed.
"Yes, Helen," Jake sighed but then opened the outer paper and was
about to open the inner lining when. . .
"POPPIES!!" Jake and Quinn screamed with joy while Daria suddenly
froze and convulsively shook while Helen shuddered and Quinn bolted towards the
bubble wrap that Jake was already starting to pop the individual bubbles
within with their hands (and Jake with his toes).
"Jane, I know you didn't know, but the Morgendorffer gene has some
kind of defect when it comes to bubble wrap," Helen groaned.
"But, Daria isn'-." Jane said in puzzlement then Daria actually
lunged forward to the outer wrapping.
"Poh-pees/ Buh-ble wrap!" Daria sang to the tune of 'Row, Row, Row
Your Boat' and also started popping- with a cool but possessed expression on her face.
"Daria's tried to train herself to hold out but she's no match for
their magnetic pull. Well, you lasted ten seconds. A new record,honey!"
Helen groaned while Daria joined the others until every last bubble was
"HA! I popped the most because it was birthday and I could use my
toes!" Jake taunted in triumph.
"Allow me to open the rest of the package,"icily commanded Helen as
she pried the popped bubble wrap from the three genetic Morgendorffers'
"It's a painting! Thanks, Jane!" Jake eagerly cheered upon seeing the
three by two foot oil on canvas work.
"What is it?" Coyote asked.
"It's my vision of the Morgendorffer Coat of Arms! Upper Left-Hand
Quadrant has Mr. Morgendorrfer's Golf Club Over Pasta. Upper Right-Hand
has Mrs. Morgendorffer's Attache Case Over the Scales of Justice. Lower
Left-Hand has Daria's Glasses over Book. ." Jane explained.
"Dante's 'Inferno'! I like that!" Daria beamed with her Mona Lisa
smile emerging momentarily.
"And Lower Left Hand Corner is Quinn's Compact Mirror Over Credit
Card," Jane finished while Helen glared daggers at that part of the
"We can hang it on the mantle!" Jake enthused.
"Not just yet, one thing needs finishing!" Helen ascertained.
Before anyone could think to stop her, she pulled out a red magic
marker and from the coffee table drawer and made a 'not' symbol over
Quinn's Credit card.
" Now , it's true to life!" Helen beamed while Quinn shuddered.
" Can we open my gift now?" Quinn asked as she pulled the large
wheeled box into the room.
"Sure, my baby! That's some package there!" Jake beamed.
"I got it at Cashman's and. ." Quinn started to explain as Jake
unwrapped the gigantic bottle of Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox After Shave.
He started to look a little puzzled and confused.
"Jake, it's aftershave. Though, I've never seen men's aftershave in
such a huge bottle before," Helen tried to explain.
"I'm not . .sure about this, honey," Jake paused as he went a bit
"Just push down the damn pump on top and squirt it into your
hand," Helen insisted.
Jake did so with disastrous results.
"GAH!!" Jake gasped- along with everyone else in the room at the stench.
" Please no, Daddy! Mah-mee?" Jake called out in a tiny voice much
higher than before.
Chapter 2: Divided Lanes
"DAD?!" Quinn screamed.
"Jake, speak to me!" Helen ordered but in a panicked tone.
"Dad? You okay?" Daria worriedly asked.
Jake suddenly sat down next to the bottle but didn't say
"What's happening?!" Quinn screamed as she burst into tears.
"Oh, man! He's gotten himself into a bummer!" Coyote shuddered.
"Dad, didn't you once say he told you something about his
Dad's doing something awful after he gave him cologne?" Ethan asked.
"Oh, yeah. Helen, me and Jake were smoking her. . herring and
he said something about his old man REALLY going off on him when he was
about six after he gave his dad a present! I'd forgotten it was
cologne," Coyote shuddered.
"Jakey! Your father's dead, you're safe with me and all of us
here love and care about you!" Helen forcefully shouted.
Jake just stared blankly ahead.
"Dad, we've made all your favorites ! Have some manicotti and mint
chocolate chip cake!" "Quinn pleaded through her tears as she ran from
the dinner table with those items.
Even after Quinn blew their aromas into his nose, Jake still
just sat there.
"Looks like you've checked out of this world into one of your own.
I have to admit that sometimes tempts me but. ." Daria started to say.
"Daria! " Helen shouted,"She didn't mean it, Jake!"
At that moment the portable phone rang and Quinn quickly rushed to
"Grandma Ruth! How's your canasta cruise and. .." Quinn nervously
asked before Helen grabbed the receiver.
"Oh fine, sweety! Is my Birthday Boy Jakey there?" the white
haired Ruth Morgendorffer holding a portable phone and wearing a muumuu and lei shouted over oil-drum calypso music on the party deck.
"Sorry Ruth but Jake's in a state of shock after getting some bad
aftershave as a gift from. .." Helen started to explain while Quinn
shook her head and waved her hands begging Helen not to say her name
"Someone here besides me, Daria, the Lanes and Yeagers."Helen
"My poor baby boy!" Ruth cried.
"Anyway, he's not speaking or eating and we were wondering if you
might have any details or insight. Coyote Yeager seems to think it had
something to do with a bad event with your late husband and aftershave
when he was six," Helen asked.
"I can't really say! You know I'd move Heaven and Earth to help
out my Jakey but this cruise is pre-paid and nonrefundable so I'll
have to suffer alone without my family here. Anyway, when all else
fails, Jakey'll eat. .." Ruth explained.
"Apricot JelloÒ with extra skin!" Helen and Ruth said in unison.
"You remember! Now, can you put the phone up to Jakey's ear for
me?" Ruth asked.
"Jake, it's your mother! PLEASE try to say something!" Helen
"It's Mommy! Happy Birthday, Jakey! It breaks my heart to hear you're like this but
remember that Mommy loves you no matter what- even more now that you
can't backtalk. ." Ruth beamed over the phone to Jake's total
" LIMBO!" someone on deck was heard to call in the background.
"Gotta go,Jakey! They've just lowered the limbo bar to 5 foot six
so I won't hit my head. Remember when it rains to wear your rubbers!"
Ruth exclaimed as she hung up and joined the limbo dance in progress.
"Eww!" exclaimed Quinn who could hear her.
" Galoshes , Quinn! That's Grandma's word for galoshes !" Daria
"Whoa! I gotta split!" Trent shuddered.
"Trent, come back here, deadbeat!" Jane snarled as Trent left.
"I'm sure Trent has his reasons," Daria tried to explain.
"Oh, yeah! Typical. He just walks out and leaves us high and dry.
.." Jane ranted.
"After 22 years with nothing to show for it but the corns on your
feet and a rash. ." Daria countered doing her best Barch imitation imaginable.
"Oh, God! Did I go Barch ?" Jane asked.
"It's okay! Now I can hold this over you instead of doling out
hush money!"Daria quipped.
At that moment, Trent burst into burst into the room out of breath
but carrying his guitar.
"Trent how'd you run to our house then back here carrying your
guitar?" Jane asked.
"It's an emergency so I did what I had to," Trent replied.
" But it's blocks away," Daria noted.
" Hey, I don't believe in streets, sidewalks and fences so I took
a shortcut!" Trent responded.
"Please, give it a try!" Helen pleaded.
Trent strummed a few cords on his guitar then sang:
"I know you want to stay where you are/
But we don't want you to go too far/
We want back here with us Mister M/
Please come home and let us know ya again!"
For the next half-hour, Trent sang to everyone's desperation then. .
"Please no, Dad! Mah-mee?!" Jake uttered in his most childish
"Jake, you're back!" Helen cheered as she, Quinn, Coyote and
Trent all hugged him.
"Dad?" Daria asked- as she realized he was still stuck in that
"You know 'LA Woman'?" Coyote asked Trent.
"Dad, I think that's a few years after Mr. Morgendorffer's
memory," Ethan explained.
" I know but it'd have been cool to hear again!" Coyote mused.
"Jane, Trent, I want to thank you for all you've done trying to
help Mr. Morgendorffer out of this but. .it may be more than any of us can handle.
Here's some manicotti for you to take home!" Helen insisted as she put
two large plastic containers in their hands.
"Thanks for trying, Trent,"almost everyone else echoed.
"No, thanks, Mrs. Morgendorffer. I just can't eat right now,"
"Me either but it couldn't hurt for us to take it home when our
hunger DOES overpower all other thought!" Jane considered.
"Thanks for your gifts and for being here!" Helen sighed.
"Before I go, Quinn. Just out of curiosity. Where did you get
that. . unusual card?" Jane asked.
"It came with the bottle. Why do you ask?" Quinn quipped.
"No reason. Just wondered if you'd have been interested in
someone like him," Jane shrugged.
"Schoolbus yellow coat and hat, greasy hair? EWWWW! Puh-LEEZE!
I can't even imagine Daria being such a total and desperate loser as
to want that ! Hello?! Worse than tweed with elbow patches!" Quinn shuddered.
" I can't thank you enough for your insight," Jane icily replied.
" Jane, Trent, sorry we had to meet like this but it was good
meeting you two," Ethan said as he shook the Lane's hands.
"Cool. Keep the faith, man!" Trent replied as he was shaking
"Likewise, maybe we'll meet again!" Jane pondered with a noticable
" I'll get back when I can," Daria insisted as the Lanes
sadly left the house.
"Quinn, do we have the JelloÒ ?" Helen asked.
"Skin and all, Mom!" Quinn replied as Helen put a spoonful to
Jake's lips- and he actually did take it in his mouth, swish it around
and swallowed it but without the slightest change in his vacant
"At least you won't starve, Jake!" Helen consoled.
" Should we make a DependsÒ run?" Daria asked.
" I have an idea! Coyote, Ethan, would you carry Jake up to our
bedroom so we can. . talk!"Helen insisted while giving her daughters a
"Sure! Ethan, you know what to do," Coyote insisted as he
stretched his arms overhead,grabbed his hands together while Ethan
lifted the prone Jake onto his right arm,flung him headfirst over his
right shoulder while grabbing Jake's knees with his elbow, then started
walking towards the stairs.
"WOW! You sure are strong, Ethan! How are you able to carry Dad so
easily?" Quinn gushed while Ethan started climbing the stairs.
"Practice," Ethan laconically replied while momentaily shooting
Coyote a steely glare.
Helen followed them up the stairs, with her daughters and Coyote
"Ethan, just put Mr. Morgendorffer on the bed and close the door
behind you on your way out while we talk ! Quinn, why don't you and
Daria play Trivial PursuitÒ with the Yeagers for a while," Helen ordered
as she slammed the door shut.
"Mo-om, I don't wanna. .." Quinn pleaded.
In a moment, Ethan exited and suddenly was heard Jefferson
Airplane's '(Don't You Want) Somebody to Love' blasting from the
parental stereo in their bedroom.
"DARIA! CAN YOU AND ETHAN TEACH ME HOW TO PLAY?" Quinn shouted with intense discomfort and embarassment.
"SURE, SIS! WHAT COLOR PIE WHEEL DO YOU WANT?" Daria asked.
"GREEN!" shouted Ethan.
For the next fifteen minutes, the girls and Ethan played the game
while doing their best to shout their moves over the repeated playings
of 'Someone to Love'.
"Something bugging ya besides Mr. M's shut-down?" Trent asked Jane as they
were walking back to Casa Lane dragging the wagon behind them.
"Trent, I know you meant well but thanks for nothing with your
caterwauling!" Jane sneered.
"Whoa, Janey! You'd better be careful not to say what you don't mean!
" Trent snapped.
"But I DO mean it! There Mr. Morgendorffer was all vegged out and
you had to croak and twang," Jane boiled.
"Music's my life and I thought I could grab onto Mr. M's soul
before it went over the edge. I had to try ," Trent groaned.
"Trent, there's a time and place for everything and. .." Jane
" You want me to bury my soul when it could save someone we care
about?" Trent gasped.
"Oh, yeah, something that barely gets your foot in toxic dives'
doors on amateur night's gonna do that," Jane scoffed.
"Janey, you of all people know that art's not done to bleed the masses but to free the soul," Trent pleaded.
"There you go with 'soul' again! What a thankless night this
turned out to be," Jane fumed.
"Everyone in that house who could did thank me for doing my best
to help Mr. M- even Daria's sister," Trent snapped.
"Real cool, Trent! Putting Quinn on a pedestal above me-
even after you heard her call me a bigger loser than Daria!"Jane
"Daria's no loser and neither are you, Janey- even now but you put
out feelers by asking her if she'd go out with Nathan,"Trent
" Just can't get enough of your support, Trent,"Jane groaned.
" Hey, things'll open up for you real soon and. ." Trent started
" Don't need pity, Trent- and I don't need you ! Your 'music' holds me back! I can't count the sculptures and paintings that got shattered and streaked by that noise" Jane exploded.
"Whoa! I've never complained about your paint fumes but if that's how you want it, you won't have me around to dump on anymore. I'm moving out!" Trent countered- as they entered Casa Lane and Trent slammed the door in her face.
Jane unlocked the front door then stormed to his locked door.
"How? Where? You think I care ? You're wrong, deadbeat! I've
taken care of myself and you since I could walk and I'll do the same
without you banging around!" Jane boiled as shouted to the locked door.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE CORRECT ANSWER IS BELGIUM?"Quinn shouted in reply to Daria's reading the Trivial PursuitÒ card.
"DON'T ARGUE WITH THE. ..!" Daria started to shout but at that
very moment the endless loop of that Jefferson Airplane song stopped
blasting from the stereo in the parental bedroom.
The Morgendorffer daughters along with the Yeagers froze in
anticipation despite their intense mutual discomfort at trying not to
imagine what might have been happening behind that bedroom door.
"Don't you WANT somebody to LOVE, JAKEY!?"Helen wailed as she was
heard bursting into tears.
"In spite of my serious revulsion at what I might see, something
tells me I need to go upstairs and . . knock,"Daria gulped as Ethan,
Coyote then Quinn followed her singlefile.
"Uh, Mom, Dad? May we come in" Daria asked.
"The door's unlocked. No point in delaying picking up the wreckage
of a beautiful bond," Helen sobbed.
Daria slowly opened the door and saw Helen quickly tying the sash
of her knee-length red silk robe and sobbing on the bed. Jake was still
on the floor with his suit somewhat more wrinkled than before but an
unchanged expression while Helen looked entirely drained- emotionally
"Mom, are you alright?" Quinn gulped.
"No! I did my best, girls. ." Helen started.
"Eww!" Quinn and Daria replied simultaneously while shaking
their shoulders to shudder.
"But all your father did was repeat that phrase 'Please no, Daddy!
Mommy?'- exactly 37 minutes after the last time," Helen groaned.
"Man, that's some flashback!" shuddered Coyote.
"Not that you would have personal knowledge of one, right
Dad?" sarcastically sighed Ethan.
"Ethan, at least your father's with you," Helen berated.
"Hold on, now. Helen, I think the boy's got some idea and. ."
"I'm sorry but I'm going to have to get professionals on this
one first thing in the morning. This has been just about the WORST day
of my life. Goodnight, everyone!" Helen groaned as Quinn and, yes, Daria
actually came up to her and hugged her tight.
Even Daria could see that Helen needed that reassurance.
"Goodnight, Dad. We're here for you even if you aren't,"
sniffed Quinn as she and Daria clutched his lifeless hands.
"[SIGH]!" sighed Quinn.
Daria was roused from her half-sleep she'd had in the sleeping bag
on Quinn's floor but tried to ignore Quinn.
"Ahem, [SIGH]!" sighed Quinn even more loudly than before.
"Okay, Quinn! What is it?" Daria snapped.
"Are you asleep?"Quinn asked.
"No, I'm actually racing huskies in the Iditarod over Alaskan
tundra but the one thing that's keeping me going is thinking how to dump
you into the nearest crevasse if you don't let me sleep," Daria
"I just need someone to talk to," Quinn sighed.
"Alright or I'll never get any sleep and you won't see another
sunrise!" Daria groaned.
"Do you think that at this moment, Ethan's dreaming of me?" Quinn
" Oh, Dear God. Just when I think there could be a limit to your
solipsism. .." Daria shuddered.
" I mean, here I am just across the hall and, in spite of all
that's happened tonight, I can't help but think of him," Quinn
"Quinn, why are you interested in him? Your Fashion Fiends would
burn you together at the stake and his disdain for footwear wouldn't get
him past the front door of Chez Pierre or Cranberry Commons," Daria pondered.
" But didn't you see the way he so easily carried Dad up the stairs
and wasn't he smart at Trivial PursuitÒ ?" Quinn beamed.
"He hardly said more than three sentences to you the whole evening-
and he even talked to Trent more, "Daria considered.
"You think they were talking about me?" Quinn asked.
Daria gave Quinn her best glare in spite of the two being in
near-total darkness and Daria's vision being naturally blurred sans
"I'll grant that he was quite helpful,"Daria
"Daria, are you interested?" Quinn gasped.
"Just because Tom's in Switzerland this next week doesn't mean . "
"That's good to hear because we'd make a very good-looking
couple. He's sent me tokens of his affection, you know, " Quinn gushed.
"Quinn, Mom's shut herself with Dad in their room , Dad's vegged
out and God knows what's going to happen to him tomorrow. How can you
just think drivel at a time like this?"Daria shuddered.
"Because if tomorrow's going to be bleak beyond our control what else
is there to do tonight? Pleasant dreams. ..sis!" Quinn sighed.
"Goodnight, Quinn," Daria sighed and considered that Quinn might
actually have a valid point after all.
Hours later, Daria dreamt that Tom had opened the door of her
room, wordlessly walked up to her bed, bent down with puckered lips and
was about to plant a kiss when. .Daria opened her eyes- and, in spite of
her naturally blurred vision, realized that she was on the floor in
Quinn's room. Quinn was tossing and turning and quite restless.
"So that's how the other half-percentage sleeps, " Daria mouthed
to herself inaudibly.
Then Daria herself went back to sleep and hoped to resume her dream
but fate wouldn't be so kind this time.
Sometime later, Daria heard the front door slam shut- and, quickly
nudged Quinn while hurriedly trying to remember where on the floor she
put her glasses. Quinn saw two men carrying the prone, expressionless
Jake into a van decorated with balloons, lassos and the words 'Birthday
Buckaroos!' on the side while Helen was walking with him and climbing
into the van. The Yeagers' Beetle was no longer parked in the driveway.
"Dad?! Mo-om?! What's going on?" Quinn bolted out of her room and
down the stairs in her pink nightgown while the van screeched away with her
"Quinn, what's happening?" Daria asked in a panic after she
found her glasses that she had put on Quinn's nightstand.
The two Morgendorffer sisters stood barefoot in their driveway
in stunned silence.
" Where's Ethan?" Quinn gulped.
" I guess the Yeagers left before this happened. Right now we
need to. ." Daria attempted to order as they both reached the driveway
empty but for Helen and Jake's vacant vehicles.
" He left without saying goodbye?!" Quinn sobbed.
"Dad would have if he. .QUINN! Dad's been taken by goons at
Mom's command and you're thinking about some boy who barely talked to
you? Hit me so I can wake up from this recurring nightmare!" Daria
Quinn did so.
"OWW! Those carrot sticks must have more iron than I thought,"
Daria gulped as she rubbed her newly sore left arm.
"Daria, I love him! Opposites distract!" Quinn boiled.
"They sure do ! I'm in no mood to argue. We need to get back
inside and plan how to find Dad again!" Daria groaned as the two padded
back inside their house.
"And soon after that, Mom called on her cell and told us one of
her clients did her a 'favor' by committing Dad with no publicity. All
weekend, we tried to pump her for info but she wouldn't budge,"Daria
explained to Jane that Monday between classes in front of their lockers.
"Well, Jake sounds in good hands being kept by someone who needed
a law firm to save their butts!"Jane snapped.
"That's what I tried to tell Mom but she's convinced that a few
days of their therapy and feeding him Apricot JelloÒ with extra skin
should do the trick- and refuses to listen to us,"Daria groaned as
she took Burke's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' out of her
"Anything else happen?" Jane asked.
"Nah, Quinn spent the whole weekend on a killer babysitting spree.
I rarely saw her.Hence, I could do my term paper without having to
listen to her moon about Ethan's departure," Daria scoffed.
" The Yeagers left early?" Jane queried-a bit tensely..
" Sometime in the wee hours before Dad's alien abduction. What a
weekend. Who'd have thought that working on that term paper would be my
only escape and Dad's birthday party would be the nadir?" Daria
"Funny how expectations rarely pan out," Jane scoffed.
"Side-splitting hilarious!" Daria groaned.
"So you've not had the chance to see Jake since the Roswell twins
beamed him away," Jane pondered.
"No. I wish I could find out something," Daria groaned.
"Well, it may not be too long before I'm out that way myself. The
minute I've got diploma in hand, I'm taking off to sketch my way
across the country carrying only my sketchbook and a change of underwear
in my backpack," Jane pondered.
"We don't have a car so that rules out us Thelma and Louise-ing,"
"Who said it was 'we'? I'm going solo- at least as far
far as New Mexico then become the 21st Century Georgia O'Keefe!" Jane beamed.
"Solo? We could spend a few weeks on a road trip before college
and," Daria considered.
"College? You'll find a good one and hook up with pods of fellow
brains. Me? I don't have the grades and I sure as Hell don't have the
funds. If I don't do this, my Lawndale careers will be 'paper or
plastic' or 'fries with that'! I've gotta find a new muse.
There's no one here for me anymore!" Jane snarled.
"Jane. .." Daria started to say.
"I know you're here but come September, you'll go to your new
life and I'd be all alone here. Moronic isn't it?" Jane laughed in a
" Look, I know your folks are even more clueless than mine but
what about Trent?" Daria asked.
"He can go to Hell!" Jane boiled.
"What?! Jane. ." Daria sputtered.
"I don't wanna talk about it," Jane seethed.
"Okay, we can. .." Daria started to say.
" We got into a major blowout after the party and he moved out!"
"Moved out?" Daria asked.
"To the garage. He thinks I'm going to break down and beg him to
come back into the house but I don't need him!" Jane snapped.
"Jane!" Daria exclaimed in a rare tone of shock.
" He's working on something out there," Jane replied.
"What?" Daria asked.
"How the Hell should I know. I don't care if they're planning the
next Bum-Aid Concert and I couldn't care less what he and his
deadbeat cronies are doing- at least while Jesse's visiting his
grandparents' Ecuadorian hacienda," Jane scorned.
"Jane, don't throw away. . ." Daria started to say.
" Oh, Miss Cousin Slash Sisterhood is going to tell me how to
live! That's just jiggy, amiga ! "snarled Jane as she ran off and left Daria
even more alone than before.
"Dad, I wish there was a way to reach inside you. You don't know
how much I miss scoffing at your nonsense," Daria said aloud to herself
as she closed her locker.
"Daria?" a voice called out.
"Who's that?" Daria asked as she turned around and saw a blonde
girl with a large bang over her right eye and patched jeans approach her.
"Karen Disher, " Karen replied.
"I've. . .never heard you speak before. Sorry but I was having a
private conversation with. . .myself," Daria groaned.
"Daria, I know I've been in the background this whole time at
Lawndale but don't count us background folks out. You say you want to
get your Dad back? Meditation might be helpful. My boyfriend's heard what happened and can help," Karen insisted.
"Your boyfriend ?" Daria asked.
"You'd be surprised the kinds of lives we background people lead.
Did you know Andrea can do 300 birdcalls?"Karen inisted.
"Oh, God! Why. .?" Daria considered.
"I don't have much time before my next class but I have nothing to
gain by lying or misleading you. I'll give you a ride to where my
boyfriend's at after school," Karen pleaded.
"I know that I shouldn't logically be going with someone I've
never talked to before to a place I've never been to meet someone I
don't even know but maybe just this once I should just let faith guide
me. Dear God, what an unbelievable character development I've had here!"
" I know quite a bit about character development and direction," Karen laughed.
" I'll meet you in the parking lot after school. Don't you have
something to produce?" Daria asked.
"Directly," Karen insisted as she walked off.
Daria was about to go to Mr. O'Neill's class when Ms. Claire DeFoe
"Daria, could I see you for a minute?" Ms. DeFoe asked.
"But I'm not in your class anymore, "Daria protested.
" I know but maybe you could help shed some insight. I had planned
to ask Jane but I can't find her anywhere," Ms. DeFoe explained.
Daria followed the single teacher who was simultaneously
competant and sincerely caring for her students' welfare at Lawndale
back to her classroom.
" I assigned the class to sketch this cluster of grapes but Jane
did something additional, "Ms. DeFoe pondered as she pointed to a cluster of black seedless grapes suspended from the ceiling by a wire.
The two of them stood before Jane's fresh sketch with mouths agape.
Jane had sketched herself as Cleopatra standing over the corpse of the
deposed pharaoh- her brother Ptolemy XIII clutching a lyre. Ptolemy's
face was Trent's. Cleopatra and Marc Antony each had a foot on Ptolemy's
torso and Marc Antony was thrusting a knife through Ptolemy's chest that
went clear through and pierced the lyre. Cleopatra was simultaneously
feeding Marc Antony the cluster of grapes while sneering at Ptolemy's
corpse. Marc Antony's face was that of Ethan Yeager.
"I know Jane's art is supposed to be a safe venting of her
strongest emotions into an inspiration but this is somewhat disturbing,"
Ms. DeFoe gulped.
"Yeah, Jane forgot that it was Caesar instead of Antony
who offed Ptolemy for Cleo!" Daria gulped.
Chapter 3: Helen Hath No Fury
Daria thought about Jane's paintings and her rift with Trent but
had no idea if she could solve them. Still, she thought maybe Karen
Disher could lead her to some kind of solution with Jake.
As soon as the final bell rang, Daria followed Karen out to the
parking lot and saw a Harley-DavidsonÒ with a sidecar.
"Here's your helmet!"Karen motioned to Daria.
"Hmm, if we had another 300 pounds and British accents, we could be
'Two Fat Ladies'! "Daria scoffed.
"You cook any?" Karen asked.
"Does nuking lasagna count?" Daria asked.
" It's not far where my boyfriend is but we need to get there soon
so he can explain things thoroughly," Karen insisted.
" I dunno about this meditation bit," Daria pondered.
"You of all people should know brain power. My boyfriend has
something that could tap its unlimited potential and free your Dad!"
Karen insisted as she jumpstarted the Harley and the Hog made its way
out of the parking lot.
The route seemed VERY familiar to Daria. Lawndale wasn't that big a
town so she'd long since walked or been driven too all but a few odd
corners of it. Still, this route seemed to be getting closer to where
she'd been . ..This was on the way to the Jane's neighborhood. Daria
didn't get too perturbed as she hadn't met all the neighbors there but
then the cycle started to slow down on Jane's street. Jane hadn't
introduced her to anyone there and had long since written off her
neighbors as kooks and busybodies. Then they finally stopped at. .. Casa
Lane- garage! Oh, no- Trent! Daria thought he'd been coy around her
because he didn't want to get involved with a minor so what was he doing
with . .and who was HE to try to tap mindpower?
" Um. .. Karen. I know someone like . .him. . must seem wordly and
intriguing. ." Daria said rather nervously after Karen stopped the
engine and they started walking towards the Casa Lane Garage.
"You have no idea, " Karen blushed.
"Yo, Karen! Glad you were able to bring her here!" Trent proclaimed
as he opened the door to the garage just as Karen was about to knock.
"Trent? Are you sure about. ." Daria gulped.
" Come inside! We're waiting!" Trent insisted.
" We?" Daria asked.
" Sure, Trent and. .." Karen started to explain.
"Greetings, Turtledove!" Ted DeWitt-Clinton exclaimed as he lifted
his safety googles from over his glasses and put down a tiny screwdriver he'd been using to put together a modem board.
" Glad to be back, Studmuffin!" Karen exclaimed as she and Ted
hugged and kissed for several seconds.
" I never imagined. ." Daria said with relief.
" Some couple!" Trent laughed as he shook his head.
"Should we leave you two alone?" Daria sarcastically asked.
"Sorry, but we can't help ourselves!" Karen laughed.
" You brought me here to show off Ted?" Daria asked.
" No, Daria! We heard about your Dad so my collegue and I have
been working on something really big," Ted breathlessly exclaimed.
"I never thought you and Ted knew each other," Daria said in
puzzlement while shaking her head and looking at Trent.
"His dad hired me once!" Trent shrugged.
" I never thought that Mr. Clinton was into rock," Daria pondered.
" Dad isn't! But he put an ad in the tradepaper for a scarecrow and
. .." Ted explained.
" I needed a new amp for $50 and that's how much Ted's old man
was willing to pay," Trent shrugged.
" I never saw crows fly away faster than when he'd start to sing!"
" Let it go," Trent shrugged.
"I wish I could stay with you guys but I've got to teach that line
dancing class in fifteen minutes," Karen insisted.
"Isn't she full of surprises?" Ted laughed in his geeky way.
"Good luck to you and your collegues. I wish I could be around but.
." Karen explained.
" But between this project and your cello workshop tomorrow, we
won't be able to see each other again until Wednesday! Goodbye,
Pookums!" Ted proclaimed as he and Karen locked lips and tightly hugged
for a minute straight while Daria was somewhat flummaxed by the whole
"I guess I'll see you in school," Daria shrugged as Karen left the
garage and was heard to fire up the Harley then race away.
" My collegue and I have been working online. . ." Ted started to
"Online? Ted, you don't have a television set," Daria shuddered.
" He put together his own terminal from parts he found in the
landfill," Trent shrugged.
" Anyway, with Trent covering the sound. We think we can snap your dad
out of it but we need your help!" Ted insisted.
"I don't even know where he is ! Mom's gotten so tight-lipped about this and. ."Daria groaned.
"That's part of what you need to do! You also need to ask your friend if you can borrow that digital video camera, "Ted added.
" But Trent can. ." Daria started to say before Trent shot her a
"Yeah, just call that friend of yours up and borrow that camera
of hers . You can have her bring it to school tomorrow then come back
here with it," Trent insisted.
"No, she can't ! Daria's going to have to take tomorrow off if we
are to pull this baby off!"Ted gasped.
" Um. .actually, I can't miss school tomorrow! That's when Ms.
Barch's term paper's due and she said that she'd flunk the girls if
we didn't physically hand ours to her tomorrow. .and I can't repeat what
she threatened the boys with!" Daria groaned.
" Well, you could meet her first thing there," Ted insisted.
"Get Jae. .er your friend's camera," Trent added.
"Then fake being sick and come back here!" Ted finished.
"But why can't I tell. .. my friend about this?" Daria asked.
" The fewer people in the know the better! Besides, I have to
prove to. ..Jae. .everyone that I'm no screwup and can handle things
without h-hr- er help," Trent warned.
"We'll explain in more detail later," Ted insisted.
"Would you like me to fetch a soda from. " Daria started to ask.
"No need!" Trent warned.
"He's got a whole case of those here- and a deep freeze full of
frozen tofu blocks we can eat. After they've thawed, natch! Too bad about
those paint fumes making his tenant house unlivable!" Ted shrugged.
"Tenant house?" Daria asked as she looked in the direction of Casa
"Yeah, paint fumes!" Trent seethed.
A couple of hours later, Daria was back at home when Helen screeched
the brakes of her SUV as she raced back home on a tear.
"DARIA! Where's your sister?"Helen screamed.
"I'm right here, Mom," Quinn meekly gulped as she walked into the
"I spent the whole day trying to get Cashman's to pay for what they
did to your father!" Helen boiled.
"But. Mo-om!" Quinn gulped.
" I was going to turn them into a chain of parking lots after I
got through with them but NO! It turns out that that they hadn't sold
that . . sludge in 40 years and that the manufacturer's been defunct and it hasn't been made in 35 years! Quinn Morgendorffer, you LIED to me!"Helen screamed as she drew her arm back to slap her but stopped short an inch before she would have connected.
"Um.. you didn't want to be violent just now?" Quinn nervously
"No, I realized that I could have splattered what passes for your
brains with that slap and I didn't want to go to prison without having
someone PAY for what they did to your father- and for you to pay me
back!" Helen boiled.
"Pay you back?" Daria asked.
"I . .maxxed out a credit card and Mom had to wipe out our college
fund to pay it off so we wouldn't lose our house," Quinn burst into
"Mom, I'm willing to risk juvie,"Daria seethed.
"Not so fast! First I want to know exactly where Quinn got that
swill- and, by the way, I know you bought squid foundation cream with
that money I spotted you for the gift!" Helen seethed.
"It's jellyfish!" Quinn insisted.
"SHUT UP!" Daria and Helen yelled simultaneously while waving fists overhead.
" Alright, I ran out of money and none of my other sources were
willing or able to spot me," Quinn glared hard at Daria with those
"So I poured out my plight to Sandi and she gave the bottle to
"Oh, that little bitch! You HEARD me, Quinn! She's every bit as
rotten as her mother! Well, I'm going to have it out with them once and
for all!" Helen boiled as she grabbed Quinn's cell and speed-dialed
As fate would have it, Linda answered the phone.
" I tell you that Griffin . . person was so phony and condescending,
it was almost as bad as your aunt's gloating when I told her what
happened with your father!" Helen boiled.
"Aunt Rita?" Quinn asked.
"Aunt Amy?" Daria gulped.
"No, your Morgendorffer aunt!" Helen seethed.
"Oh, yeah, the one who compels Dad to flee the state instead just
the house when she comes by," Daria groaned as thought of Jake's sister.
"Well, I gave Linda a piece of my mind and told her where to
go!" Helen boiled.
At the Griffin House. ..
Sam and Chris were hitting each other in the arms after the entire family had had their right arms punctured as a result of Linda's insistence that if she had to be undergo allergy serum tests- so did everyone else.
"Sandi, that cologne you gave sent Mr. Morgendorffer over the edge!
I'm very angry at you!" Linda seethed.
"But, Mother, I didn't. .." Sandi tried to explain as she grasped
Fluffy closer to her side.
"How many times have I told you?! When sabotaging your foes, don't
leave any trail they can follow you back with!" Linda boiled.
"Mother, I wasn't doing that! I just wanted to get rid of that
gallon of heartache but I didn't know it would effect Ka-Winn's dad that
way," Sandi gasped.
"You do nothing but let these ants walk all over you- in spite of my
many warnings! Well, you're going to pay. I just found out I'm
allergic to Fluffy so I was going to sell him to a pet food
commercial company but now I'll sell him to some 3rd world cosmetic
testing factory!" Linda boiled.
"Mother, you can't! He's my only friend !" Sandi burst into
"You have no friends! You only have the option of becoming an ant or
stomping on them!" Linda glared.
"Linda," Tom Griffin started to say as he came to Sandi's room.
"Just shut up, Tom! This is all your fault! I wanted a potted
saguaro cactus for the stairwell but, you said that a baby would
go much better with the room and look good on our resumes!" Linda seethed.
" Linda. ." Tom gulped.
"And then you said, 'Sandi's lonely. Instead of a doll, let's
give her a baby sister' . You blew that idea twice !" Linda boiled as
she slammed the door on Sandi and Tom meekly followed her.
"Don't worry, Fluffy. You ARE my only friend and I won't let
anything bad happen to you! I wish they'd gotten a cactus and I'd gotten a doll. .," Sandi cried while hugging Fluffy to her bosom.
"So why didn't you come over or meet me for pizza?" asked Jane as
she called later on the phone.
"Funny how a few last-minute revisions can blow an entire afternoon
and evening," Daria replied.
" Jodie saw you get on that Harley with Karen Disher," Jane
" Nothing much to tell. We didn't go very far before she dropped me
off. ." Daria explained.
"Where?" Jane asked.
" Um. . not too far from my house. Why the third degree?" Daria
" No reason. Just don't like it when my best friend joins the rest
of the world in passing me by,"Jane explained.
" I'm not passing you by. I just. . . had something I had to do
and you'd taken off with that run! Listen, gotta go um, but can I ask
you something?" Daria asked.
"Shoot," Jane sarcastically replied.
" Could I borrow your digital video camera? It's for a project,"
"Sure come on over and. ." Jane insisted.
" No can do. It's getting kinda late," Daria groaned.
"What's the project?" Jane asked.
" Independent study," Daria replied.
"Sure, I guess I can bring it with me on our way to school
mañana! So, O'Neill thinks you're the next Ron Howard. Hmm. See ya
then!" Jane pondered as she hung up.
Daria could tell that Jane hadn't quite bought the excuse but it
was too late to think of any other and Jane did promise her the
The next morning, Daria met Jane as she handed her the camera.
" So, here it is! Now tell me all about this project. Is it
something about recording your enormous range of emotions and inflections?"
"No, it's.. .sorry, Jane. I just don't feel like talking about it
right now. When everything's settled, I will ," Daria groaned.
"So, did Karen do anything of interest besides drive a Harley?"
"Well, put it this way. She's dating the last boy you'd expect.
.and. . " Daria insisted.
A convertable blew its horn.
"Hello, you luscious babes!" Upchuck growled as he yelled out the
" Amscray!" Jane seethed.
"Fiesty!" Upchuck growled as they were rounding the last corner to
" Er.. .no it's not him,"Daria groaned.
" Details! Inquiring minds," Jane persisted.
" Listen, I need to talk to Ms. Barch first thing. I'll meet you
later," Daria insisted as she broke ranks with Jane.
"Hey, amiga! Running's supposed to be my trademark!"Jane called
out as Daria ran with the camera.
Daria quickly put the camera in her locker then made her way to
Ms. Barch's classroom.
"What are you doing here?" Daria asked the white-haired old lady who had just finished writing her name on the chalkboard.
"Miss or Mrs. Barch is having a root canal and won't be in until after lunch so Miss Lee called me into service," Mrs. Stoller explained.
"OK, here's my. .." Daria started to say as she handed her term paper to Mrs. Stoller.
"Actually, I didn't speak to Miss Lee herself. For some reason, she had her laundress make the arrangement," Mrs. Stoller pondered.
"Mrs. Stoller, could you give this term paper to Ms. Barch?"Daria asked.
"Sorry, no can do. I see that girl with the hippy name's trying to take advantage of your trusting nature, Miss Darlene," Mrs. Stoller droned.
"Er. .no, Mrs. Stoller," Daria tried to argue.
"But I say if we let her get away with this, there'll be nothing to stop her from running off to a 'Hair' audition or making macramé plant hangers. You tell her to bring the paper to Miss or Mrs. Barch herself . .." Mrs. Stoller insisted.
"But Mrs. Stoller. . " Daria replied.
"Ms. Barch,do you have liquid. .? ACK!" Anthony Di Martino gasped.
"Posture, Tony. .. or I'll safety-pin a note on your shirt for Mrs. Olive
to schedule a parent-teacher conference," Mrs. Stoller replied as Mr. DiMartino fled.
"But could you please.. ."Daria asked.
"I have too much work to do before class . Good day, Miss Darlene!" Mrs. Stoller insisted as she got up, saw Daria to the door, then closed the door in her face.
"Hello, Trent," Daria called on Tom's cellphone as she closed the bathroom stall behind her.
"Did you get the info and camera?" Trent asked.
"Yes, Mom ranted about a tantrum at Cashman's and I contacted the source there who told me Mom mentioned the nuthouse as the LaStraw Institute," Daria insisted.
"Cool, we'll get rocking on that! What about the. ..?" Trent asked.
" I won't cut loose as soon as I planned but I think I can make it later," Daria explained.
At that moment, Daria heard breathing from the next stall- which she had been sure had been empty.
"Gotta go, bye!" Daria insisted as she quickly flushed the commode.
"DiMartino was shaken up even more than usual today, " Jane said over lunch.
" He had his reasons," Daria muttered as she was counting the minutes until Ms. Barch's return.
"Yeah, wasn't it funny how he told the whole class how Mrs. Stoller had treated him as a boy- 'DiMartino sounds very similar to a hard beverage -calling you 'Tony Olive' would less likely encourage delinquency!' ' Took me twenty-SIX YEARS to sort OUT the paperWORK!'" Jane laughed- having imitated Mr. DiMartino and him imitating Mrs. Stoller.
"Something else, alright," Daria sighed.
"I don't know how she's stayed in the system all these years," Jane scoffed.
"That's what I asked Supervisor Cartwright a week after the strike. ." Daria replied- as she started spooning her mystery meat.
"What. .?" Jane asked.
"One word- mother-in-law!" Daria scorned.
"Isn't that three - not counting the hyphens? Ah, good ole Lawndale nepotism!" Jane sighed while Daria nodded.
"Who says Lawndale has no traditions," Daria shrugged.
"You haven't even touched what they say is food! What's with you?" Jane asked- as Jane noticed Daria's cafeteria tray..
" I just don't. .. feel good today and. .gotta go!" Daria explained before she saw Ms. Barch walk past the cafeteria towards her classroom.
"Wait! What's with you? What's with all of you?" Jane groaned.
"What's this, damn it!!"Ms. Barch was heard screaming as she kicked Mrs. Stoller's chair- having noticed a large pile of ice stacked four feet high on the righthand corner of her desk.
"That's a 'no-no' word! Go stand in the corner until I get the soap to. ." Mrs. Stoller snapped as she started pointed to a corner while standing up.
"It's my classroom and you were supposed to teach photosynthesis!" Ms. Barch
"I couldn't because Mrs. Bennett wouldn't let me borrow the office's color copier so I brought this from the cafeteria then told the boys and girls all about how ice turns into water, Miss or Mrs. Barch," Mrs. Stoller explained.
"That's Ms. !" Ms. Barch snapped.
" 'Mizz' sounds like a mosquito," Mrs. Stoller insisted.
" Just go home now, you pre-feminist fossil!"Ms. Barch fumed.
"At least I was able to attract and keep my man around until he got pinewood boxed so I I don't have to resort to using to mosquito sounds in front of my name," sniffed Mrs. Stoller as she abruptly exited and wordlessly passed by Daria.
"Why don't you turn in the paper when class starts?" Ms. Barch
"I ate a pizza last night. .um.. have a VERY bad stomach bug and I'm
going home as soon as I hand you the paper," Daria replied.
" A stomach bug. Hmm.You don't feel feverish!" Ms. Barch insisted
as she felt Daria's forehead.
" Take my temperature,"Daria wanly insisted.
"Remember Daria, what I've taught you must ONLY be used for good- and don't ever tell anyone where you learned this. . . at least not until after your mother's death!"
Daria suddenly remembered Aunt Amy Barksdale saying before Daria used a
yoga-biofeedback technique to concentrate an inordinate amount of
bodyheat underneath her tongue.
"103 Degrees! I'll send you to the school nurse," Ms. Barch
"No, don't! " Daria gulped.
"That's right! We don't have one anymore. They cut that out of
the budget so Ms. Li could pay for a new security guard, a MALE security
guard. Probably related to that MALE pizza cook who spread his disease!
So like them to make us diseased so we're forced to cook for THEM. 22
years of legal slavery and did my ex even once brew a cup of tea for me
? No, but he DID make nachos for himself and his posse! And. ." Ms.
Barch ranted but Daria could see that she did write her a sick note to
take to Ms. Li so Daria left.
"What's the meaning of letting someone walk off with all that used
computer equipment and wiring? Don't you know that I.. er the school
could have profitted by selling it to the recyclers?" Angela Li seethed
as she was berating the security guard with punk white spiked hair
"Sorry, ma'am, my can of Ultra-Cola came got lifted from the teacher's lounge yesterday," the security guard replied.
"Well, as long as you bought another can, that's the important thing!" Ms. Li insisted.
"Ms. Barch wrote this sick note for me. I have to leave now," Daria
"Sure, Miss Morgendorffer. Have you seen the New Zealand exchange
student? I need to grill him on the missing wires from the scrap pile,"
Ms. Li sniffed.
"I don't think we have one," Daria shrugged but noticed that she
felt that she was being watched from above but soon walked out
the building without further incident.
At that moment, Quinn was sitting in class,looked out the window and
saw Daria flee the school- looking behind her to see if she was being
watched. This piqued Quinn's curiosity a great deal.
"So class. Volunteering can not only help our self-esteem others,too.
Matter of fact, just this weekend, I started a new program in which my
voice counsels patients at a fine institution. .Yes, Quinn?" Mr.
"Excuse me but I think there's a lost person in the girl's bathroom
who could use some fashion counselling so could I go volunteer. .?"
"Can't it wait until after class?" Mr. O'Neill asked.
"No,this poor soul could go the next 45 minutes being ostracized
for having no fashion sense. Do you want that responsibility of
someone's extended low self-esteem on your head?" Quinn asked.
"You're right, Quinn! I'll be happy to support you in your noble
cause. Go with my blessing!" Mr. O'Neill gushed.
"Gee, Ka-Winn! Do you need the Fashion Club's help in your
mission ?" Sandi asked accusingly.
"No, I must do this outreach on my own. I wouldn't want to deprive
the Fashion Club of the opportunity to do good here !" Quinn scowled.
"Oh, good point! Mr. O'Neill did you know knit shirts are. .?" Sandi
was heard to say before Quinn made her break.
Quinn saw Ms. Li and the security guard arguing in front of the main
entrance so she made a beeline for the girl's restroom and climbed out
through the window-which, oddly enough, had been left open- the wires to the magnetic lock having been severed.
"So, Daria. You weren't followed or anything?" Trent asked at Casa
Lane garage a few minutes later
"No, here's the camera. " Daria insisted.
"Super dooper! I should have this baby finished by then!
Remember, get those family photos I was talking about!" Ted insisted.
As Ted closed the door and Daria was about to walk back home. .
"What the HELL is going on here?" Jane seethed- as she burst out of the back door of the Casa Lane kitchen.
"Jane," Daria gulped- as she abruptly threw her bookbag into the doorway- causing it to land at the head of the basement stairwell.
" And my birthday's not for months so don't try that !" Jane boiled.
"You really think that that deadbeat and that geek will find
anything useful?" Jane asked as she and Daria were walking back to
the Morgendorffer House.
"Do you think that Ted would enlist our help if he didn't think
they could help Dad out?" Daria asked.
" I know that he picked up on that virtual reality bit real fast
and all but how d'ya know he's a good judge of. .?"Jane asked.
Daria blushed and sighed.
"Because at the Homecoming Parade, he snapped a picture of Tom and
me- saying we were a couple," Daria groaned.
"But what does. .?" Jane asked.
"That Parade was long before our three-way dust-up and even
before you had your suspicions," Daria deeply groaned.
"OK, I guess he may be onto something. Still, it's hard to believe
he could do ALL that by himself. " Jane pondered.
"Gotta admit, that kinda puzzles me,too. We can find those family pictures Ted wants inside. Maybe, we'll hear from Trent soon," Daria considered as she opened
the Morgendorffer House front door- almost certain, she heard the
garage door opening at the very same time.
Meanwhile Mr. O'Neill's lecture proved so boring that virtually
the entire class fell asleep- including him .
"Come on, Stacy, Tiffany! We're going!" Sandi insisted.
"But that. .would be so wrong," Tiffany protested.
"Tiffany dear, it would be more wrong to sit here and watch
the man sleep! "Sandi insisted as she started walking out with the
remaining two Fashion Clubbers behind her.
" Where are we going?" Stacy asked.
"Ka-Winn's taken a very long time to give some girl fashion
counselling so that can only mean one thing. She's gotten some inside
scoop and she wants to beat us to telling others about! We can't let
Ka-Winn steal our thunder again!" Sandi insisted as they entered
the downstairs girls' bathroom.
"I don't see Quinn anywhere in here. Maybe we should go back?"
Stacy meekly suggested after popping inside to look..
"Stacy, Ka-Winn not being here means she has gone somewhere else
so we can't go back until we've located her. Hmm, a pink thread!"
Sandi pondered as she saw a single inch-long pink thread dangling from
the open bathroom window frame and picked it up.
"It appears Ka-Winn has left the building,"Sandi hypothesized.
" I thought only Elvis could. .."Tiffany remarked.
" We must intercept her at once," Sandi insisted.
"Yeah, she could get in trouble," Stacy considered.
" And if she gets caught our reputations could SUH-ffer! We
need to bring her back here for her own good- even if she's spreading
the Fashion Word to the world!"Sandi insisted.
"What do you have . .in mind?"Tiffany asked.
"Stacy could lower me to the ground so I won't get my shoes or
slacks dirty from climbing down three feet and, Tiffany, you could look
out," Sandi ordered.
"Um.. Sandi, I think. ." Stacy started to say.
"You WHAT?!" Sandi snapped.
"Eeep!" squealed Stacy.
" Very well, just watch my back while I climb out! Must I do
everything myself?" Sandi boiled.
A few seconds later, that question was answered.
"Good, Stacey, I see you've decided to lower me after all!
Hey don't pull up!O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh. .. ." Sandi shuddered as she
came eye-to-eye with Ms. Li who yanked her back inside with surprising
"Miss Griffin, what the Hell are you doing here?!" seethed
"I was going to ask the same question,ma'am," groaned Staci.
"The plumber shut the water off in my bath suite after the
bidet. ..NEVER MIND!" snorted Ms. Li.
"Nice work being a lookout, Tiffany," Sandi spat as the three
were seated outside Ms. Li's office.
"I did look out into the hall," Tiffany protested.
"But why didn't you try to warn me when Ms. Li came in?"Sandi
"It's not polite ..to yell ...when someone needs to . use
the bathroom,"Tiffany explained.
At once, Mr. O'Neill made a very hasty and abashed wordless
exit from Ms. Li's office.
"Miss Rowe and Miss Blum-Deckler, get back to your classes
immediately. Miss Griffin, come inside!" Ms. Li seethed.
" I was only trying to stop, Ka-Winn,"Sandi protested.
" Skipping class,leaving school property without permission
and putting Lawndale High at risk for lawsuits by climbing out the
window are punishable offences. First, I must call your mother," Ms. Li
"Not that! Put me before a firing squad- in plaid!"Sandi
"Hello, Mrs. Griffin, this is Ms.Angela Li Principal at Lawndale
High. I have some VERY bad news about your daughter Sandi. . .No. .she
has not had a zit eruption. She. ..well, yes, I guess you two do look
like sisters,"Ms. Li sheepishly replied obviously lying through her
teeth while Sandi rolled her eyes-having heard Linda ask this line of
questioning hundreds of time since the start of Sandi's puberty.
"Of course people think you're the younger one. Er. .Mrs.
Griffin, Sandi was caught climbing out the girl's bathroom window in
order to leave school grounds during school hours and I intend to punish
her with a week's suspension- in school!" Ms. Li fumed.
"With all the geeks and losers?" Sandi groaned.
" So that's where your name came from," Jane exclaimed- as
they looked over a picture of a couple in fancy 19th century wedding attire beneath
an elaborate canopy.
"Yep, my bookseller great-great-grandfather David Morgenstern
married the printing heiress Eva Dorfferman. So, they agreed to
hyphenate and voila had my great-grandfather Louis Morgen-Dorffer,"
Daria explained as she looked at the pictures.
"So when Louis emigrated from Alsace-Lorraine. .."Jane pondered.
"Yep, the Ellis Island registrar dropped the hyphen and garbled
the name!" Daria scoffed- as they looked at Louis's picture.
"But where did 'Mad Dog' come into the picture?" Jane asked.
"Well, Louis married Sophie Lieberman and they had Mordecai but
he studied obscure early American history and found out about this Welsh
prince named Madoc who some believe came to what's now the USA back in
the 1100's! Being a 1st generation, US American, he wanted to show his
roots were deep here- so he legally changed his name to Madoc
Morgendorffer shortly before he joined the Army," Daria explained.
"And it didn't take too long before he got the nickname 'Mad Dog'!
Say, where is he?" Jane asked as they were leafing through.
"Oh, no! Now I remember! When Mom and Dad married , Mom
decided she'd heard so much about 'Mad Dog' that she destroyed every
single photograph of him she could find so Dad would quit being haunted
by him!" Daria groaned- as they saw family photos with sections trimmed out.
" That sure worked," Jane scoffed.
"I guess Grandma has one with her on the cruise. WHY couldn't she
have come back when we need her help?" Daria pondered.
"Maybe she's too far out to sea to dock anytime soon. Maybe
passport problems.. " Jane replied.
"She's on Lake Michigan circling around, "Daria groaned.
"Say, maybe you could have her scan then e-mail a photo! Quick
let's get online!" Jane insisted.
"Will do. Did you just hear a bump?" Daria asked.
" Maybe your house is settling. Mine does that all the time," Jane
". .Damn! I forgot to recharge Tom's cell,"Daria groaned.
"Let's start recharging then calling your Grandma!" Jane insisted.
A few minutes later. ..
"Hello Grandma, it's Daria. .. no Dad's still not well. We think we
can help get him out of his current state. You have any photos of
Grandpa Morgendorffer? Great! Just go to the 'Net lounge and have them
scan it to my address. .. No, it won't hurt the. . What do you mean you
can't let me see it?. . OK, so it's a wallet-sized reproduction of the
one in your bedroom with him life-sized. .. on the ceiling? Where you
hang pictures is not my deal, Grandma.. ..so he's saluting and wearing a
helmet. .. only a helmet?! No, Grandma there's no reason for me or Dad
to ever see it.Bon voyage, Grandma," Daria groaned as she had
gotten somewhat embarassed by the conversation.
"Anything left to do here?" Jane asked as she paused a bit before sitting back down with Daria on the sofa facing the entertainment center- having heard the sound of something scurrying.
" I got the photos of Grandma and my Aunt Morgana from Dad's childhood but I'm not sure if this stunt will work without Grandpa 'Mad Dog's ' image!" Daria groaned as she sat down and felt a new lump beneath the sofa.
"Oww!" a muffled yelp was heard by the two girls.
Chapter 4: In Jake's Corner
Jane put her right index finger over her mouth and silently mouthed to Daria (who she knew could read lips)," Hand me the photo album- and on the count of three, we'll stand up together then turn the sofa on its side while I mace whoever's underneath there! One,two three!" Jane exclaimed.
In just seconds they stood up, then while upturning the sofa, discovered someone's right big toe tangled in the seat springs- with the owner still attached.
"Ethan?!" Daria and Jane exclaimed in shock a moment before Jane was about to hit him with the photo album.
"Are you alright?" Jane eagerly asked as she rushed to untangle his toe.
"Yeah, sure," Ethan replied as nonchalantly as possible but still in pain.
"What the Hell are you doing here?"Daria asked.
"Yeah! " Jane angrily added as she suddenly let the spring snap back onto his big toe.
"Oww! Mr. Morgendorffer needed my help so I told Dad to tell everyone in New Mexico that I'd make my way back on my own," Ethan explained as he untangled his toe.
"And you've been hiding yourself in my house?!" Daria asked angrily.
" I only let myself in to see if I could find some keystone from childhood to help out Mr. Morgendorffer. I couldn't find anything in the garage or attic, "Ethan replied.
" Childhood artifact? Does this mean that. ..? "Daria asked.
"Yes, Ted DeWitt-Clinton's my collegue and Trent's been cool enough to work with us and give us his garage for our project," Ethan explained as he righted the sofa.
"His garage?" Jane asked.
" I was on my way to Ted's when I heard Trent playing- and I knew he wouldn't mind me dropping by at 4AM. I told him about the project Ted and I had been working on and how it could help Mr. Morgendorffer and he was all ears. I've been mostly staying there these past four days except for research and catching up," Ethan added.
"So you've had no problems with that garage," Jane said accusingly.
"It sorta reminds me of some of the cliffdwellings up on the mesa. Too bad about those paint fumes making Trent's tenant house uninhabitable," Ethan shrugged.
"I'm gonna kill Trent," Jane seethed.
"Daria, can you remember any favorite television show of your Dad's from his childhood?"Ethan asked.
"He once complained about how his dad hogged the TV to watch 'The Honeymooners' but I can't remember him mentioning anything specific for himself," Daria replied.
"Our folks grew up in the first TV generation so there's bound to have been one show that had more impact than any other. My dad even took his moniker from one," Ethan insisted.
"Let me guess. 'Road Runner'!" Jane quipped.
"Yep! It was his way of getting back at Grandma for naming him and his twin sister after her favorite cartoon! He swore me never to repeat his original name but, put it this way, as soon as Aunt Twyla was old enough, she changed her name from Tweety!" Ethan related.
"I've got the photo albums. What more do we need to . .?" Daria asked.
"I researched LaStraw! They have a shift change at 5PM. That should be the best time to spring Mr. Morgendorffer, "Ethan insisted.
"Spring him but. .. ?" Jane asked.
"That place is bad news, Jane! The sooner we get him out, the better. I just need to know what name he's under so we can plan on breaking him out. It seems that folks dump relatives under assumed names there. Let's go up to your terminal, Daria," Ethan insisted.
"Mom's maiden name was Barksdale. Does that help?"Daria asked.
"Yeah, someone named Troy Barksdale checked in a 'partner' called Jacob Perlman on Saturday!" Ethan related as he pulled up the LaStraw roster.
" Great going, Mom. Now those goons will think she's a man and Dad's gay- making life even more unpleasant for him there," Daria groaned.
"Here's a picture of the staff during their picnic. We can use this to make copies of their ID badges!" Jane concluded.
"Great thinking. Can you make a good copy from a zoomed in shot?" Ethan asked.
"Is Gallileo a heretic?" Jane laughed then in a few clicks, had the prototype for the ID badge at hand.
"Cool. I'd say we print five- using generic, gender-neutral names such as Chris and Sandy,"Ethan insisted.
"When it comes to visuals, I'm your woman!"Jane beamed while nudging Ethan.
" Does Mr. Morgendorffer still have an office?" Ethan asked as they walked back downstairs.
"It's been awhile since I was last there but, as far as I know, he does. It's on the other side of town, though," Daria sighed.
" Trent could drive us out there,"Ethan pondered.
"How? Both the Camero and Tank are broken," Jane groaned.
"Nah, I fixed 'em over the weekend," Ethan insisted.
"Trent said he and Ted would pick me up here at 4:30!"Daria recalled.
"Cool, he and Ted are busy getting things ready but I'll give 'em a call and tell Ted to bring five sets of blue scrubs," Ethan concluded.
"Why five?" Daria asked as they reached the main living room.
"Cos that's the two of you, Ted, me . .and her," Ethan nonchalantly shrugged while pointing at Quinn who'd hidden herself in the tree while looking in the window.
"Let me at her!" Jane boiled and started running.
"I'll do it!" Ethan shrugged.
"But Jane's been running for years and you're barefoot!" Daria gasped.
"Yeah, but Quinn more likely'd let me catch her!" Ethan shrugged as he took off and soon caught up to both Jane and Quinn.
Daria ran out of the house as fast as she could but was more easily winded than the other two. Ethan outpaced Jane then caught up to Quinn and grabbed her wrist. Quinn stopped where she was but Jane immediately tackled her to the ground.
"Who the Hell do you think you are spying on us?" Jane boiled.
"Daria, get her off me! Ethan, why aren't you tackling me?" Quinn pleaded.
"Not until you tell us why you're here!" Daria insisted.
" I saw you leave during lunch and I've noticed that you've been snooping around trying to find out what's going on with Dad. .and I wanted to help!" Quinn gulped.
"Help?! How could you help, Princess Grace?" Jane sneered.
"Well, I feel like it's kinda my fault Dad's gone zombie," Quinn sighed.
"That's true. Quinn, I know you'd have never deliberately done this to Dad. Jane, get off her," Daria insisted.
"Are you sure she won't rat to Helen?" Jane asked.
" Considering that she's already gotten herself in trouble by skipping school," Daria concluded while Jane let go of Quinn.
" What makes you think. .? I thought you skipped. ..!" Quinn seethed.
"Yeah, so did I! That's why I skipped out!" Jane boiled.
" I faked being sick to Ms. Barch and she wrote a note to let me go home early for Ms. Li!"Daria conceded.
"You mean, we both put our butts in a sling to protect yours but you'd already covered it?" Quinn boiled.
"ARGH!! " Jane and Quinn screamed in unison while tackling Daria..
"Ladies, killing Daria won't help Mr. Morgendorffer!" Ethan insisted as he simultaneously pulled off Jane and Quinn by grabbing an arm and lifting them off- with both of them virtually leaping to their feet the second they felt his hand on their arms.
"Whatever you say, Ethan!" Quinn beamed.
" But what good will Quinn be to us?" Jane snapped.
"She could hold the flashlight while I hotwire the Lexus," Ethan insisted.
"No need for that! I know where Mom keeps the keys!" Quinn replied.
"But she's taking them with her everywhere these days," Daria groaned.
"Not today! Don't you remember her talking about arguing that case at the State Capitol today?" Quinn asked.
"Yeah but. . of course. You're right!" Daria concluded with snapping her fingers.
"Yo! Ethan and I don't get this inside joke," Jane snapped- as she snapped her fingers to imitate Daria.
"It's a two-hour drive there but since the case would take her the whole day and the firm would pay for it, Mom's almost certainly flying. She loathes going through airport security so the less metal she has to dump out onto the tray, the better!" Daria concluded.
"To the jewelry box!" Quinn insisted.
The four of them climbed up to the parental bedroom and found the keys in said box, then after Ethan called Trent but, as per their insistance, did NOT let him know that Jane and Quinn were helping them out, they soon were on their way to Jake's office with Daria at the Lexus's wheel. They came to the obscure office park and parked outside it.
After tearing through the 'Lease Has Expired' sign, they let themselves in to the empty rooms. he outer room had three office chairs next to a coffee table loaded with consulting magazines, for any visitors. There was a small receptionist's desk with a telephone and answering machine (that Jake had never been able to figure out how to program). Jake had never actually hired a receptionist in Lawndale but he concluded he had to appear to have one to impress any clients. After Daria flipped the light switch on, she could see quite a layer of dust had accumulated but the four of them silently pressed onwards to Jake's actual office. Adjacent to the desk was a television set with a VCR permanently flashing 12AM and behind the desk was a large bookcase containing reference sets of consulting manuals and a few sets of consulting videos.
"Jake was able to support you, Helen and Princess Grace before Helen started working full time doing this?" Jane gasped to Daria while Daria rolled her eyes.
"Hmm, these shelves are quite messy! These tapes aren't flush against the wall!" Quinn gasped.
"What difference does that make?" Daria asked.
"Mr. Morgendorffer may have been trying to hide something behind that section of tapes," Ethan pondered.
"Here's something! Another tape but ACK!!" Jane coughed/screamed as she saw the title.
" 'The Feeling Felines' Honolulu Luau of 1978'?!" Daria asked as she saw the well-worn outer cover of voluptuous models wearing only cat ears and tails while roasting a pig.
"Dad watches porno? EWW!" Quinn shuddered.
"It makes sense he'd hide it here and behind those legit tapes," Daria shrugged.
"Not so fast," Ethan pondered as he lifted the cover off and let the tape itself slide out.
" 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie'? Dad's watching a threesome?" Quinn shuddered.
"Not that kind! It all makes sense now! Back in the early 50's, this was a children's show out of Chicago that even adults liked! A lady named Fran Allison would stand in front of a puppet stage, converse and have adventures with Burr Tillstrom's puppets- Kukla and Ollie. .and it was just about all improv! " Ethan exclaimed as he put in the tape into the machine.
"You want us to watch this? How will that help. .?" Jane asked.
" I think he and Ted could put this to good use and the three of us could help out!" Daria beamed.
"You got it!" Ethan insisted.
"So Dad wasn't ashamed about us finding out he watched porn, he was more embarrassed we'd find out that he still craved these puppets' company!"Quinn concluded.
"It may even explain why he kept this office going even after he started doing almost all his business out of the house- so he'd have a place to watch it without anyone making fun of him!" Daria pondered.
"So maybe Jake did have folks he believed cared about him growing up!" Jane exclaimed.
Daria and Quinn looked at her.
"Hey why should I be left out of the psychobabble moments!" Jane laughed.
" I'll leave you three to watch this the next hour, then I'll meet you at the LaStraw Insitute. Bring the tape with you! Trent will pick you up at your house," Ethan insisted.
" But why don't you stay with us?"Jane asked.
"And why shouldn't we drive the Lexus there?" Quinn asked.
" There are some things I have to do before you get there- and you don't want the Lexus traced back to you after we've broken your dad out!" Ethan explained as he walked out the door while the others started watching the tape.
"But why am I having to be in detention but not Quinn or Quinn's cousin/sister/whatever's friend?" Sandi whined.
"We cannot locate them at this time but not to worry, I have already left word with their mothers and, as soon as we find them, we will mete even more severe punishments. In fact, if you find them before tomorrow, I may be willing to reduce your detention to this afternoon only- and a $50 Cashman's gift card. Here's my cell number!" Ms. Li insisted as she led Sandi off to detention- having spent the entire time supervising Sandi doing chores in the principal's office.
"Trent's actually on time!" Daria exclaimed- after the three of them had watched the video at Jake's office then driven the Lexus back to the Morgendorffer House.
"Ted's with him- and he has a watch!" Jane quipped.
"Oh, yeah," Daria sighed.
"Daria, could you go out and explain to Trent . ..?" Quinn asked.
"The best way to do this is to give him the least chance to bolt so let's just get it over with," Daria strategized as Trent pulled up the Tank.
"Ah, Daria! It's gonna be cool to. " Trent beamed- until Quinn and Jane came out of the house behind her.
"Hey, it's. .!" Ted eagerly exclaimed.
" It's Daria's sister," Trent sneered.
"Yeah, Quinn!" Ted insisted.
"Trent, don't even think. .. " Jane started to warn while wagging her right index finger.
"And Daria's friend!" Trent sneered.
" Daria, tell Trent. ." Jane boiled.
"Daria, tell your friend," Trent snapped.
"What am I- Panmunjon?" Daria asked.
" I don't know what's gone down between you two but just because you're clashing doesn't mean the rest of us have to go naked waiting for you to co-ordinate!" Quinn insisted.
Jane, Trent and Ted looked at Quinn in puzzlement.
"Translation- like it or not, we're all here and needed on this vital mission so, for Dad's sake, truce it till it's over then dogfight can be resumed!" Daria explained.
"Do you have the ID badges?" Ted asked as they started to climb in the back of the Tank.
"Yep! These are rather natty copies, don't ya think?" Jane smirked.
" I got the scrubs we can wear over our clothes- and look what I borrowed from Mom!" Ted exclaimed proudly.
"Wigs!" Quinn squealed.
"Yeah, if we're all blonde, that'll throw 'em off!" Ted exclaimed- as Jane, Quinn and Daria got settled on the Tank's chest in the back while Trent started to rev up the engine.
"Say, this doesn't look like human hair- or nylon," Quinn quipped.
"Not to mention that these look big enough for pumpkins," Jane groaned.
"They are! Mom made these outta corn silk for the 'Quintuple P Fest' five years ago. ..!" Ted started to explain.
"Quintuple P Fest?" Daria asked.
"Yep, the Pennsylvanian Poconos Pumpkin Parade and Popcornpalooza!" Ted laughed in his geeky way.
"Isn't that six P-words?" Jane asked.
"Popcornpalooza's one word!" Ted chuckled.
" Everyone knows that, Jane,"Daria teased.
" Aren't we forgetting something?" Trent asked.
"Here's the 'Net map showing the fastest way to get there. LaStraw Institute's ten miles outside town and we can make it there by the shift change, if we take the Easterly Trace,"Daria pondered as she showed Trent the map.
"But don't we have to pass the Ringstrasse on the way?" Trent asked.
" Yeah, but we should beat Rush Hour so we should make it on time," Daria considered.
" I'll be happy when that Ringstrasse is finished! It's noosing our city with most of it under construction with only two lanes,"Jane grumbled.
"The engine's sounding a lot smoother than I've heard it before," Daria noted.
"And watch this!" Trent insisted.
"Look out!" Jane yelled as Trent drove straight over a pothole.
"I didn't even feel the slightest jar!" Daria beamed.
"Ethan's fixed it up real good- even the shocks!" Trent exclaimed.
"Let's just put the scrubs and wigs on now!" Quinn sniffed.
"Whoa! I see the Front Gate with the barbed-wire fence!" Trent gulped as he came to the LaStraw Institute's perimeter at 445PM.
"Just act calm. We show them the ID's and tell them we're taking care of laundry from the temp service," Jane recalled.
". It's our turn now!" Trent gulped.
"Who goes there!" the guard barked.
"Just three for laundry detail and two nurse's aides!" Trent replied- while passing the ID's.
"Park at the Employee Lot- then have these new workers check in for orientation!" the guard insisted- as he opened the gate and let the Tank pass through.
"Yahoo! We made it in!" Jane cheered- as Trent drove the Tank in the direction of the Employee Parking Lot.
"But can we make it out- and with Dad?" Daria asked.
" According the website Ethan helped us crash, Jake's in Room 345- so we'll find an extra large wheeled empty trash cart in the loading dock and bring it to Jake's Room, then put him in there. Trent- at 5:05, you drive to the Loading Dock and we'll make our escape there!" Jane reiterated.
"Shouldn't we wait for Ethan?" Quinn asked as she, Daria, Jane and Ted climbed out the Tank.
"No need! Look up!" Ted beamed as he nudged Daria who motioned the others to look up on the roof.
"I don't believe this," Jane gulped in awe.
Ethan was on the roof of the 5 story building and waved to them before climbing 50 feet down to the ground in 30 seconds- gripping the bricks and mortar with only his fingers and toes.
"Some insurance, Ted!" Ethan nonchalantly stated as he handed Ted a microcasette.
"Great job, amigo! Here's your ID!" Ted beamed.
" Thanks! I've shorted out the electric lock of the small door next to the Loading Dock. We can take the Freight Elevator to the 3rd Floor and pick up Mr. Morgendorffer there," Ethan insisted- as he let them inside and put on a set of red LaStraw Institute Scrubs over his clothes just inside the door.
"How about getting inside the room?" Daria asked.
" Not so easy, from the inside. Combination button-lock!" Ethan explained.
"I can work out the code for that!" Jane insisted.
"That's great,Jane! Remember,if we don't break Mr. Morgendorffer outta here now, you'll never see him alive!"Ethan insisted.
With Jane and Daria struggling to keep their oversized cornsilk wigs on and Quinn having disappeared then reappeared having evidently found the powder room, the five of them set out for Jake's room. They passed by several nurses and cleaning crew people who took them to be one of their own as they every so often put in laundry and trash from the receptacles into the cart before taking the elevator to the 3rd Floor. Ted appeared to be a nurse's aide and appeared to be leading a barefoot patient (Ethan) 'back to his room' as far as the passerby were concerned. They made it to 345, then Jane played with the buttons before hitting the correct combination a minute later- opening the door and letting Daria inside.
Jake was in red scrubs with the LaStraw Insitute logo stamp. Jake was sitting on the floor staring blankly ahead. He had four days of beard growth,looked a little thinner and with a Band-Aid on his right arm but otherwise unchanged from four days before. The room reeked of human waste and filth and was empty but for a detached IV bag- and set of headsets that were still playing
"Dad?" Daria asked with a gulp as she quickly hugged him but didn't feel a response.
" Guys! Get in here!" Daria gulped.
Daria picked up the earphones.
"My name is Jake Grophendorker! I'm fortysomething. I'm loved by my wife Helen and have two daughters. My name is Jake Grophendorker. ." the headphones played on a loop.
"Mr. O'Neill taped this! I should have known! No wonder you aren't any better," Daria groaned.
Jake looked blankly ahead.
"Please no, Daddy! Mom-mee?" Jake yelped in that childish voice- as Daria looked at her watch.
" Hmm, I'll have to see if you do it again in 37 minutes. Your hair's wet! Someone must have showered and changed you recently. Dad there's so much I've wanted to tell you all these years. I know I put you down and make like you're nothing but. . you're everything to our family- to me! I never let myself be a child but you've never let yourself be an adult. Dad, maybe you can't hear me but I miss who you were! You've been our heart and we're flying apart without you. I'll do my best to make you well again, I promise!" Daria exclaimed with a tear and hugged him again.
"Jane, why have you pushed the cart away from Dad's room?" Quinn hissed.
"I'm telling you, that guard is walking towards us!" Jane insisted.
"Ethan? Where are you?" Quinn gulped- as she, Jane and Ted clung to the cart.
"Say, don't I know you?"the guard asked.
"No, sir! My name's Christina Bergman and I just got off the plane from Stockholm!" Jane replied- in a Swedish accent.
"So, you're putting yourself through school doing our dirty work. The name's Nathan Grubb," Nathan (yes, THAT Nathan) insisted.
"Ya, Mr. Grubb! We're actually Swedish massagers.How do you do?" Jane asked-in that Swedish accent.
"All my friend call me Nathan! Say, what's your friend's name?" Nathan asked as he came towards Quinn.
"Her name's Helga but she doesn't speak any English!" Jane quickly replied in that Swedish accent.
"Say, what funny wigs, you two are wearing! Harvest festival?" Nathan laughed.
"Oh, no, sir! We fell asleep in a sauna and burned our hair on the hot rocks so we're wearing these until it grows back!" Jane replied in the Swedish accent.
"Well, if either or both of you want to have a swinging time, Nathan's the name!" Nathan gloated as he left.
The second Nathan rounded the corner, one of the ceiling panels was pulled away- by Ethan who, in a single motion, gripped the ceiling panel frame, let himself down then dropped to the floor.
"What the Hell was that about?" Jane hissed.
" I can't let him see me! Not here!" Ethan whispered.
"He's got his reasons," Ted added.
"We need to get back to Daria and Dad!" Quinn insisted- having found a new and empty trash cart.
With Ethan riding beneath the trash cart bottom, they went back to Jake's room then Jane opened the door while the others scurried inside.
"What happened?" Daria asked.
"We ran into an old foe!" Jane gulped.
"They wired Dad's ears to Mr. O'Neil's voice. No wonder he's shown no signs of improvement- and they didn't dry his hair after they showered him," Daria groaned.
"The tape's the least of Mr. Morgendorffer's worries. I'll explain when we get him out of here. Sorry about the hair but there was no time to dry it," Ethan explained.
"You mean, you showered and. .." Quinn asked.
"His hair was all matted and he was filthy. I don't think they'd bothered to do more than feed him the whole time he's been here!" Ethan shuddered.
"You changed and cleaned him for us?" Quinn beamed.
"I've had to clean up my Dad a few times when he couldn't and I need the practice," Ethan shrugged.
"Let's go!" Daria insisted as Ethan quickly placed the unresponsive Jake into the trash cart and closed the lid.
They wordlessly made it to the elevator, then rolled it down the corridor until. .
"Oh, Christina! Helga!" Nathan called out.
"Ya, what is it, Mr. Grubb?" Jane asked-in that Swedish accent.
"You're going towards the Laundry Room! The Dumpster's this way! Care to introduce me to your other friend?" Nathan asked- as Daria instantly took off her glasses.
"This is Marta. She's one of my collegues visiting from Norway!" Ted exclaimed.
"Funny, she has the same kind of wig as the other two. Another sauna accident, right? You Viking girls kill me!" Nathan sneered as he opened the door out to the Loading Dock.
Trent managed to make it to the Loading Dock and the four of them instantly unloaded Jake from the trash cart into the Tank while quickly scurrying out the door themselves.
"Great work, guys! We need to get him off the grounds FAST!" Trent pondered as he revved the motor.
"Wait! If you gun the motor, they'll think you're trying to escape! Wait till we're outside the gate to hotfoot it!" Ted insisted as he and the others crouched down in the back of the Tank away from the windows.
"Alternate plan, I like that!" Trent beamed.
"Halt! Your vehicle just arrived here 20 minutes ago! Why are you leaving so soon?" the guard asked at the Gate while everyone but
"Um.. I decided I didn't like it here so I. . .um. . quit," Trent replied.
"Very well, carry on!" the guard insisted as he let them through.
Chapter 5: Ointments' Flies
Back on Easterly Trace. .Trent's passengers had doffed their LaStraw garb.
"Ethan, how did you beat us here? " Jane asked.
"By foot," Ethan shrugged.
"But it's ten miles from Dad's office!" Quinn gasped.
"And how did you get inside the grounds? Did that fresh ditch under the fence have something to do with it?" Daria asked.
"You got it," Ethan shrugged.
"Ethan's been climbing sheer cliffs hundreds of feet tall daily since he was a kid!" Ted exclaimed.
" But last time they visited, Mr. Yeager said Ethan would start rock climbing," Quinn insisted.
" With all due respect to them, the Yeager parents aren't the sharpest rocks in the creek! You never know what talent Ethan's going to hone next!" Ted beamed in awe.
"Say, how did you two become collegues? Was it after you built your PC?" Quinn asked.
"We grew up together outside Taos! My folks liked his folks' hammocks and his folks like my folks' corn!" Ted insisted.
"I never would have thought you two would have had anything in common,"Jane pondered.
"Oh, our farms were only twelve miles apart and we both were homeschooled! "Ted replied.
"Yeah, and I usually went to his folks' homeschool!" Ethan insisted.
"Jane, Ted's folks were agrarian survivalists while Ethan's were hippy survivalists- and I'll bet there weren't too many other kids in Taos who could relate," Daria surmised.
"More there than in Lawndale but she sure catches on quick!" Ted laughed.
"I told ya!" Ethan insisted as he gave Ted a high-five.
"So's that van!" Daria gulped.
"Eeep! The Birthday Buckaroos Van! The one that took Dad away! That guard driving it was the one inside- Nathan Grubb! I thought he looked like that slimy toad on that greeting card you asked me about, Jane!" Quinn shuddered.
"Let's roll!" Trent insisted as he put the Tank into a new gear and suddenly, they went from 30 to 60MPH in five seconds.
"Amazing! " Jane said in awe.
"Yeah, maybe I oughta let more folks sleep in the garage in exchange for repairs!" Trent beamed while nodding at Ethan.
" But didn't your Dad repair the Beetle when you came here last time?" Quinn asked.
"I was totally bummed out during that time! Between my girlfriend Gia and I having a major blowout and my best friend moving away, I never wanted to go back to Taos so I fixed the Beetle to get us to Lawndale but told Dad if he wanted to go back, he could fix it himself!" Ethan explained.
"Just before that trip he'd replanted our entire corn crop into hundreds of clay pots to get them ready for the move!" Ted recalled.
" So you knew you were coming here then?" Quinn asked.
"Nah, not til we got to the Lawndale County Line did Dad tell me where we'd be moving to," Ted groaned.
"But why Lawndale?" Daria asked.
"More rain than Taos," Ted shrugged.
"Man, we're really putting our distance from the Birthday Van!" Trent beamed.
"What happened when you got back?" Daria asked.
"I found out life can change for the better when we least expect it," Ethan replied.
"Yeah, and now you're back and we can finally get to know each other!" Jane beamed-while wrapping her arm around Ethan's shoulders.
"Uh, Janey, I don't think you oughta mess with. .." Trent gulped.
"What's the matter? You're afraid that he'd upset our family's balance of bumhood?" Jane snapped.
"Not exactly but. ." Trent started to say.
"What's that noise?" Quinn gasped.
"That's the Tank's tank getting empty. Man, Ethan! I thought you said you fixed her up!" Trent groaned.
"I did but you told me you were going to get gas," Ethan replied as the Tank's sputtering grew louder.
"I thought if you could fix everything else, you could fix her so she wouldn't need gas!" Trent groaned.
" I'm not quite there,""Ethan replied.
" Trent, we've got another mile before she runs out completely," Jane surmised.
"I'm pulling her onto the Ringstrasse. There's a Guzzle 'n' Gulp on the corner of East Main just three-fourths of a mile away!" Trent insisted as he pulled the Tank onto the Ringstrasse.
"But we'll be heading opposite of our goal!" Quinn whined.
"And we're in the middle of Rush Hour and it's already bumper-to-bumper crawl! We'll never make it there in time!" Jane groaned.
"When did they build this Ringstrasse? I don't recall seeing it on any online or printed Lawndale maps!" Ethan noted.
"It's a loop they just started a year ago and no one's updated the maps. Of course, no one here likes it so maybe everyone's hoping that if it's not on a map, it'll go away!"Daria explained.
"Not as certain as would a sabotaging explosion," Jane pondered.
At the Lawndale Airport, Helen had gotten back inside her SUV and decided to play her voicemail before starting the drive back home.
"This is Ms. Angela Li- Principal at Lawndale High! I tried getting you through your receptionist but she told me you were arguing a case in the State Capitol and you were sequestered so I've left a message on your Voice Mail. I have some very bad news about your daughter Quinn. She left the campus sometime between Noon and 12:15 without permission and has been charged with Truancy. She will be have at-school suspension for one week's time. If you see her, call me at my cell phone number at once! Oh, and tell your other daughter Daria that I hope her stomach ailment's not contageous," Ms. Li snapped on the voice mail.
"Oh, I'm going to send Quinn to Juvie for this one- if she survives me tonight," Helen boiled.
"Mom, it's Daria. I left school early because of a stomach bug but I'm feeling better so I've gone to Jane's to study," Daria insisted on the voice mail.
"At least I know one of them is safe," Helen sighed as she turned on the ignition.
"Whoa! That truck almost ran us off the road!" Trent gulped as a tanker truck zoomed by the median atop the lane under construction to their right.
"Guzzle n' Gulp Gasoline? He's driving like a maniac on the unsurfaced lane!" Jane screamed- having read the logo.
"Here comes another one!" Ted yelled as Trent barely was able to get out of the way without crashing into oncoming traffic going the opposite direction while a large 18-wheeler with 'Kid Dynamite- Dynamite and Blasting' zoomed behind them- with a police motorcycle in hot pursuit.
"What kind of idiots drive hazardous materials like maniacs?" Jane asked.
" I think I know, "Daria groaned- as she was able to see the two trucks mow over the orange construction barrels - past the Hot Tar sign.
The two vehicles soon got their wheels bogged down in the hot tar and were unable to move just as the dynamite truck clipped the gas tank of the gasoline tanker. This caused gallons of gasoline to pour out of the smaller tank and catch afire from the hot tar which seconds later caused a fire to erupt in the tanker truck itself. At 5:18PM, all of Lawndale heard a very loud explosion- the gasoline truck driver having barely had time to run outside his vehicle to behind a concrete barracade where he was joined by the other, the dynamite truck driver- both having run through the hot tar that had bogged down both vehicles.
"Fire.Cool!" said one.
The gasoline truck was nothing more than a molten frame but the explosion was enough to cause the 100 tons of dynamite in the other to explode at 5:19PM. An even huger explosion resulted- appearing to be a fireball visible for miles around. It wiped out the Ringstrasse's East Main Street Overpass in the process. Luckily, though windshields for several hundred yards in all directions sustained cracks and everyone reported their ears ringing after these explosions, there were no injuries nor were any other vehicles irreparably harmed- even though the latter explosion caused the ground to shake for half a second for five miles around.
"Hey, Man! My explosion's bigger than yours!" said the other.
"No way, Beavis!" said the first.
Among the results of that jolt was the calculator in Daria's backpack shifting just enough to unbalance the load- causing it to tumble down the Lane Basement stairwell.
Needless to say, in a matter of minutes, traffic came to an grinding halt in all areas of Lawndale radiating out from the busiest section of the Ringstrasse and East Main..
"What the Hell was that!?"Jane asked.
"Is everyone alright?" Trent asked as they held onto each other after the Tank finished its jolt.
"We're all fine! Dad's lucky he's not awake or he'd be all jittery right now," Quinn ruefully sighed as she smoothed the catatonic Jake's brow.
" Hey, I think traffic's totally stopped- and we may be here for awhile,"Ethan surmised- as he reached from behind the passenger's seat then picked up andlooked through a tiny pair of binoculars attached to dental floss.
" How do you know?" Jane asked.
" Oh, this is another one of Ethan's inventions! It's a traffic periscope. He put the main lens atop Trent's antenna and he can rotate it 360 just by turning that knob in his hand. It looks no bigger than a pinhead on top but it has the full range of the human eye!" Ted beamed while Ethan shrugged.
" Will wonders ever cease?" Quinn sighed while attempting to lean on Ethan before Jane pulled her off.
"Say, Jane! I wanted to tell you it was sheer genius coming up with that Swedish accent back there," Ted exclaimed.
"Yeah, and it quite authentic,too! Where'd you pick it up?" Ethan asked.
"Oh, that's something I got from my maternal Grandma- Ingrid Lindstrom Aranda. You wore her nightgown that night you stayed with us, Daria," Jane recalled.
"I thought it was your Grandma Lane's," Daria pondered.
"Are you kidding?! Grandma Lane never set foot in our Casa- and she always stayed with Aunt Bernice when she came to our area. Besides, Grandma Aranda kept her figure much better- and that's where Mom got her looks! Trent and I got a good part of ours from Grandpa Ernesto Aranda," Jane nodded.
"That's good to know," Ethan considered.
"I'm surprised your Grandma Aranda didn't miss it," Daria pondered.
"Well, I'm sure Grandpa hasn't!" Jane laughed.
" Janey doing the Swedish accent, I'd have loved to been there," Trent laughed.
"Speaking of foreign intrigue, you wouldn't happen to know anything about a New Zealand exchange student,right?" Jane laughed.
"Yeah, I heard Ms. Li berating the security guard over him, too!" Daria recalled.
" Oh, yeah, I'd been getting some supplies for the project from the used cable heap when. .." Ethan started to explain.
"Young man, where are you going with that?" Ms. Li sniffed at seeing Ethan with the large quantity of discarded computer wiring.
"It's for a project, ma'am," Ethan shrugged.
"And your lack of footwear?" Ms. Li continued.
"We Kiwis don't wear shoes to school, " Ethan explained.
"But you don't have a New Zealand accent," Ms. Li insisted.
" I've had French schooling," Ethan added as he walked away.
"Oh," Ms. Li replied- somewhat satisfied.
"Oh, Ethan, I could listen to your wit all day!" Quinn cooed- earning her Jane's evil eye.
"Uh, Quinn, you need to cool it with Ethan," Ted gulped.
"Damn! The Tank's tank tanked!" Jane groaned.
" You mean, we can't get to Guzzle n' Gulp?" Quinn panicked.
" Even if that overpass survived that blast, I doubt we'd make it there anytime soon,"Jane surmised.
"Well, we can't just sit here!" Quinn insisted.
"The LaStraw goons drove in the other direction, I saw them just before traffic. ." Ted started to say.
"Oh, and you think they won't take advantage of this snarl to catch up to us on foot, pick us off like sitting ducks and cart Mr. Morgendorffer back?" Jane asked.
"Jane's right," Daria added.
"Please Daddy, no! Mom-mee?!" Jake sputtered- 37 minutes after last time.
"It's okay, Dad," Quinn sighed as she stroked his hair.
"I have no problems carrying him," Ethan shrugged.
"That would draw unwanted attention. We need to think of a way to hide Dad while getting him out of here,"Daria pondered.
" How about the trunk?" Jane insisted.
"Whoa! Janey, that trunk's got all kinds of band equipment and it would be too bulky for Ethan to put on one shoulder," Trent groaned.
"No what I meant was what about the carpet underneath it? It looks as though there's enough to roll Mr. Morgendorffer inside it then Ethan could carry him in it!" Jane insisted.
"Say, you didn't have it when you dropped us off at that Camp reunion!" Quinn snapped.
"Monique got it a week later. Don't ask!" warned Trent.
" I could go back to my place to get the gadgets from Trent's Plymouth then meet everyone back at the rendevous point at nine," Ted pondered.
"I thought you'd have brought everything with you!" Quinn sniffed.
"If there's anything we've learned growing up on farms is not to put all the eggs in one basket!" Ethan laughed joined by Ted.
" I guess we could do that. You all go on without me, I've got to stay here with the Tank," Trent groaned.
"You can come with us!" Daria suggested.
"No, I've gotten you as far as I can without dragging you kids down. Go on without me," Trent groaned.
"But. ." Daria started to say.
"I envy Mr. M. He may be stuck at six but he's where his old man's protecting him from everything else in the world," Trent surmised.
"But. .he's always been afraid of his Dad," Jane replied.
"Yeah, but when he was six, he thought his Dad was the worst thing that could happen and that his Dad would protecting him from everything else. It was security. I can't ever remember having that- not even as a baby," Trent groaned while Jane looked a bit troubled herself.
"But Trent, you've done so much for us. Letting us set everything up in your garage. ." Ethan insisted.
"It's not my garage, man! It belongs to my folks. Same with the house. I'm 22 and I don't have anything to show for myself," Trent groaned.
"Trent, you've psyched us up instead of shooting down our plans and we've come a lot closer than we would have if you hadn't done your best to help!" Ted insisted.
"Yeah, you'll always be cool with us! So, were you also lying when you said the house was too polluted with paint fumes?" Ethan asked.
"Oh, yeah!"Jane boiled while Trent nodded his head.
"Ted, how did you get your parents to let Trent park the Plymouth in your yard?" Daria asked.
"It's an even better scarecrow than Trent!" Ted laughed while he, Ethan, Jane, Daria and Quinn all banged Trent's shoulder which finally prompted a smile.
"We'll have to abandon the Tank for now. It won't be long before the LaStraw goons squeal to Lawndale's finest and then they'd be using the Tank as bait," Ethan pondered.
"But I thought you said we were going to call the police," Ted insisted.
"When the time's right, yeah but right now, the Tank'll have to throw them off our trail," Ethan insisted.
A minute later, with Jake rolled up in the carpet, the group has left the Tank- having steered and pushed it as far to the right of the lane as possible and leaving the warning lights on.
" I hate to leave her like this, "Trent groaned as he patted the Tank's hood.
"Don't worry! I'll make things right with her," Ethan insisted- as he hoisted the rolled-up Jake onto his right shoulder.
"Bro, you're the coolest!" Trent gulped- as they waved the Tank goodbye while Ted departed the others.
"Ooh! Surely Eric can keep me out of prison if I.. Help!!" Helen screamed as she barely was able to stop her SUV from plowing into the back of a stopped camper as the Airport Highway's traffic was at a standstill- as a result of the Ringstrasse's megasnarl- then listened to the traffic report.
" Morgendorffer, why didn't you listen to it earlier? Where did all these other cars come from? What idiots would make the congestion worse just to see an overpass bridge and two trucks in flames?" Helen seethed.
"How long before we get there, Kevvie?" Brittany asked as his Jeep came to a stop.
" If we're five miles away and it takes us an hour to move a mile. We should get there in ten minutes!" Kevin exclaimed.
"If only the IMPACT of matheMATICS had made as MUCH of one on your BRAIN as the EXPLOSION!" Mr. DiMartino exploded in back seat.
"The Louisiana Purchase?" Kevin replied which sent Mr. DiMartino into tears.
"Don't worry, Mr. DiMartino. We should be able to drop you off at your house before tomorrow's classes! " Brittany beamed.
"Yeah, we're happy to help out as long as your mechanic's taking care of your drive shaft," Kevin added.
"WHY couldn't the PLANNERS have put in a SUBWAY instead of this BELTWAY? And I don't wanna THINK about all the OVERTIME it'll take to pay off everything," Mr. DiMartino sobbed.
"Ooh! This impasse is keeping me from finding Ka-Winn for that coupon- and I'm don't think all this extra carbon monoxide is good for my complexion. At least I'm not alone," Sandi seethed as she,too, was stuck in the Ringstrasse.
"I'm glad we're on a street with sidewalks,"Daria insisted a little while later.
"And since just about every cop in town's taking care of the snarl, that takes some of the heat off us!"Jane added.
"It's almost seven!" Quinn gulped.
" We need to find a shelter soon," Trent considered.
"We could turn in here," Ethan pondered.
"On Dega Street?! Weirdoville?!" Quinn gasped.
"Can you think of anywhere better for us to blend in?" Daria asked.
Quinn looked at Daria, Jane and Trent in their usual attires as well as the barefoot, hippy-garbed Ethan carrying the rolled-up carpet concealing Jake and nodded.
"Point taken but if any popular people. .. " Quinn started to warn.
"We can rag them on their alibis!" Daria snapped.
"Hmm, I think we're close enough for the Charm to see us through," Trent pondered while stroking his goatee.
"I don't know if it's good timing," Daria questioned.
"And shouldn't we have called?" Jane asked.
"Nah, if it's meant to be, it's gotta be spontaneous!" Trent insisted.
"What are you three talking about? Oh, please, tell me you three aren't into narcoleptics,"Quinn gulped.
"That's narcotics! No, but we've got our own vibe!" Daria teased as the five of them neared Axl's Piercings and Tattoos noticing a white and washing-machine green colored DeSoto in the front.
"Wait a minute! We're going in there?" Quinn gasped.
"It's where the Charm is, Man!" Trent laughed and coughed.
"Yeah," Ethan insisted.
"You've all been here?" Quinn asked.
"I haven't but I've heard about it!" Ethan shrugged as they went inside the piercing parlour- with Billy Idol's 'Flesh for Fantasy' on the audible on the speakers.
"We're seekers of the Charm. ." Trent started to say.
"Hey! I don't allow his kind in here!" Axl snarled as he glared and pointed at Ethan's bare feet.
" What? But I'm here for. .." Ethan started to say.
"But you didn't ask for IDs or nothing when .. someone came in for a piercing," Trent gulped as he and Daria gave each other a glance.
"I ain't having no footnik steppin' on somethin' then framin' me fer their hepititus! Out!" Axl snarled.
"We don't want any more trouble, " Jane sighed.
"It's cool! Ted could use my help with the gadgets," Ethan shrugged.
"I can go with you!" Quinn pleaded.
"Nah, it's best you stay here. We'll meet when you're needed again," Ethan insisted as he put the rolled up carpet concealing Jake onto the floor then walked out of the store to Quinn's and Jane's dismay.
Chapter 6: Odd Links
" Sorry 'bout that folks. Now what will you all have done-ears, noses, eyebrows, navels or somewhere unmentionable?" Axl asked.
"Like Trent said earlier. We're seeking the Charm," Jane insisted.
"Right-o! Maori Pipecleaner Bloke, Frida Nutcracker, Miss Mystic Vision, a blighter in a blanket and a strawberry bird wanna come up. Can ya buzz 'em in, Charm?" Axl asked as he pushed a button on the intercom behind the counter.
"Send 'em up and make it snappy, Ringo! I've got my tourney tonight!" the voice squawked at the other end of the intercom.
"You heard the lady! Here's a stretcher- mandatory equipment for this business!" Axl insisted as he pulled one from behind the counter and unfolded it while the others unrolled Jake from the carpet and placed him on it. Jane and Daria carried Jake on the stretcher while Quinn followed Trent who went to the back of the store to a buzzing door which he opened. Up a wooden stairwell, the four of them climbed until they heard the The Champs song 'Tequila' coming from the door at the top of the narrow, wooden stairwell. Trent knocked and the door flew open. Inside was a shag-carpetted apartment straight out of the early 1960's.
"Aunt Charm," Trent rasped- as the red beehived older lady (with the blue eyes, triangular chin and jawline as the younger Lanes) stepped into view while twisting to 'Tequila'.
"Good to see you again!" Daria declared.
"Mrs. Sarkisian from Cashman's?" Quinn gulped- as the older lady (dressed in a 1960's monogrammed blue bowling blouse, Capri slacks and bowling shoes) embraced Trent and Jane.
"Yeah, you thought I lived in the stockroom, Miss Moneypit?" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped- as she motioned Jane and Daria to carry Jake to the couch with plastic slipcovers in front of the 1960's orange TV console.
"Why here?." Quinn asked.
"My twins the dentists ask me the same thing all the time but it's been my home since my late husband George and I eloped back in '59 , the rent's fixed and Ringo downstairs makes a primo doorman. Never have to worry about peddlars or tract-pitchers with him around!" Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
" Yeah, that's how Axl knew me, Quinn!" Daria insisted while everyone else in the room gave a conspiratorial nod that Quinn didn't quite buy.
"And shouldn't it be pronounced SH-armaine?" Quinn asked.
" Long-short is my Papa Ernesto Aranda had come to the USA thanks to Franco only two years before I was born and he insisted Mama name me for his mother Carmen back in Burgos,Spain. Anyway, Mama thought Charmaine was a version of Carmen and Papa preferred pronouncing it with a hard 'ch' so it's been Charmaine and Charm ever since!" Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
"And all this started in St. Paul, Minnesota!" Jane laughed.
"Daria, is this your father that prompted your firebreathing Mom to threaten to level us?" Mrs. Sarkisian asked as she studied Jake's prone, catatonic form while Daria and Jane settled Jake down on the couch.
"Yes, Mrs. Sarkisian- and thanks again for sharing his locale so we could rescue him," Daria answered.
"How's my baby sister, Mandy doing? Still baking mud pies?" Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
"Hah-hah. Mom's got an order for a Greek wedding reception, I think," Jane pondered.
" I guess this is worth missing the tourney. I was running late anyway thanks to traffic being gridlocked on account of those two buttheads on the Ringstrasse," Mrs. Sarkisian groaned as she set down her monogrammed vinyl bowling ball bag and took off the head scarf over her beehive.
" Only one of them was a Butthead," Daria sighed.
" I'll phone the others then cook you some food. None of you look as though you've been eating enough to keep Twiggy alive! Turn on the set," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted as she went into the small kitchen.
"Say, Jane. Why didn't you and Trent stay here when your older sibs overran your house?" Quinn whispered as the three of them were sitting down on the smaller chairs surrounding the coffee table in front of the television set.
"First off, this is a black and white set with no remote so you have to walk all the way to the front of the set to change the channel- and no cable or VCR," Trent groaned as he walked over to turn the set on.
"Then there's this rule she has about no one staying in her place when she's not around," Jane whispered.
"What so bad. .?" Quinn whispered.
"She's been working for Cashman's six days a week for 35 years," Jane started to explain.
"And she leaves her pad no later than 6:30AM , doesn't get back for twelve hours then she insists no one stays up past midnight," Trent groaned louder than he should have.
"Hey, the morning's the key!" Mrs. Sarkisian called out from the kitchen.
"No, Aunt Charm the. ." Trent started to argue.
"Let it go, Trent. Then, there's her habit of. .."Jane started to whisper.
"Say, Jane, Trent? Did I tell you what your cousin Georgia did?" Mrs. Sarkisian shouted from the kitchen.
"Her 17-year-old super-achieving eldest granddaughter," Jane whispered.
"She's. ..!" Mrs. Sarkisian started to brag.
"Aunt Charm, I love you and Georgia to death but I've had a rotten day and the last thing I need to hear about Georgia's ballet, horseback riding, prize-winning essays, computer prowess, yadda,yadda, yadda!" Jane boiled.
"Janey. ." Trent said in shock.
" No, Trent! I know you don't mean to, Aunt Charm, but hearing about SuperCuz reminds me how little I've done so can you just skip talking about her this once?" Jane fumed.
Mrs. Sarkisian made a beeline back into the main living/dining room.
" If it weren't for your brother's and the Morgendorrfers' gratitude along with the vital importance of keeping Jake Morgendorffer free of LaStraw, I'd throw you out of my pad for this, missy. But, if you don't want to hear about Georgia, far be it from me to make you feel insecure! Just remember sometimes what we don't want to hear, we need to!" Mrs. Sarkisian boiled as she ran back into the kitchen and was heard to clang pots and pans.
"Now you've done it, Janey!" Trent groaned.
"What's she going to do?" Quinn asked.
" Whenever Mrs. Sarkisian gets really pissed, she cooks! Otherwise, we'd be eating TV dinners tonight," Daria explained.
"Say, what are you doing in these parts?" Nathan Grubb asked a uniformed driver with white spiked hair driving a convertible Alfa Romeo as they were passing each other on the gridlocked Ringstrasse.
"I'm seeking out a Quinn Morgendorffer and Jane Lane for Ms. Li of Lawndale High. She said I needed to find and apprehend them tonight if I wanted to return to work tomorrow- and she's given me an electric stun gun for the job," the driver replied.
"I'm seeking Jane Lane in connection with the abduction of Mr. Jake Morgendorffer from LaStraw. Hmm, Noah, I think we could catch them together and reap the bounty," Nathan insisted- as he read Jake's real name the director only shared with him after he started looking for him.
"Yeah! Say, cool threads! Reminds me of a NAZI Stormtrooper Uniform," Noah Barkman insisted.
"Aren't these the cat's pyjamas? Sorry to hear about your business bellying-up after the dot com bottoming out!" Nathan replied gloating about his uniform.
"Yeah, can hardly wait to get our hands on Jake Morgendorffer for that! I'll make him and the whole family pay for it!" Noah boiled.
"And if we work together, there'll be no need for cops!" Nathan beamed.
"Don't want them sharing the credit, eh?" Noah nudged.
"You got it!" Nathan exclaimed- but neither thought the other's reasoning was entirely candid.
At that moment, Helen finally was able to pull her SUV into the Morgendorffer driveway- a mere two hours after she'd set out from the airport.
"Damn it! I can't believe how empty this place is," Helen groaned as she kicked off her red pumps and dropped her briefcase upon arriving to the otherwise unoccupied house.
A moment later, the doorbell rang.
"That better be Quinn having forgotten her key. I could tear her apart for what she's put me through these past four days," Helen boiled as she answered the door.
"I hope I'm not intruding, Helen," Amanda Lane began as she was holding up a bookbag.
"That's Daria's!" Helen gasped.
"Yes, Helen. I was working in the basement kiln when that awful explosion sent the backpack tumbling down the stairs- and as soon as I was sure my glaze was safely set an hour later, I picked it up. I came here to return it," Amanda explained.
"Come inside. I can make us some mint tea," Helen insisted.
"I don't want to trouble you," Amanda sputtered.
"No trouble. I could use the company. So Jane isn't at your house," Helen surmised.
"No. Otherwise, I would have had her bring it," Amanda explained as she put the bookbag down while she and Helen walked to the kitchen.
"Of course. Daria left a message that she'd gotten ill and left school early then went to Jane's to study. Did Jane mention where they might have gone?" Helen asked.
"No. Now that you mention it, I don't know where Jane or Trent are," Amanda gulped.
" I wonder if somehow Quinn could be with them. It's dark out and. ." Helen worriedly sighed.
"Now, Helen. If you hold a butterfly tightly in your hand, it will die but if you let it go. ... you're left with nothing but empty air! Helen, what have I done using that stupid bug analogy all these years?" Amanda sputtered as she burst into tears.
" Then David said he wanted to be an archeologist and Ricky a scuba diver but I told them that the queen bee's busted her stinger keeping a hive overhead so they'd better be busy worker bees and go to dental school if they wanted honey for college! Hey, people are willing to give their eyeteeth for perfect ivories!" Mrs. Sarkisian exclaimed as she pointed at her teeth while the five were seated at the circular kitchen table.
"Why does your mother's family use insect metaphors so much?" Daria asked Jane.
"Grandpa Aranda sold ant farms for a time,"Jane shrugged.
"Primo, Aunt Charm! What is it?" Trent asked as he scooped out the contents of the dish.
"Chicken and spinach enchilada suisa casserole," Mrs. Sarkisian exclaimed.
"That along with the carrot raisin salad and the raspberry cobbler should take care of us," Daria related.
"And you sure have a lot of Apricot JelloÒ !" Jane exclaimed- as Mrs. Sarkisian put a spoonful in the catatonic Jake's mouth while he was sprawled on the couch.
" I don't trust those LaStraw folks not even with handsome stiffs like Mr. Morgendorffer," Mrs. Sarkisian scoffed- as she patted his shoulder.
"What do you mean?" Daria asked -between bites of casserole.
"It's a state-run institution and the state budget's been drastically cut back these past five years , yet ever since LaStrada got a new director two years back, the administrators and staff have been paying off their Cashman's credit and buying more expensive loot than before," Mrs. Sarkisian noted while sitting back down to eat her carrot-raisin salad side dish.
"So they have suspect capital but. ." Jane pondered.
"Yeah, and a large number of patients have had adverse reactions to the pharmaceutical therapeutic drugs- including irreversable brain damage! That's why they've hired Mom," Daria gasped.
"So you think they could be planning on doing something to Dad if they get him back?!"Quinn gasped.
"That's what Ethan said!" Trent added.
"Ethan? Hmm. .interesting name," Mrs. Sarkisian noted while she nodded her eyes met Trent's-which Daria caught sight of but neither Quinn nor Jane seemed to notice.
"Anyway, that's why we have to hide him out here until we can get to the rendevous point,"Quinn insisted.
"It's nearly nine now and the Arcade's next door to the bowling alley and I could still catch a few frames so we need to finish our supper!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"It really has been a great meal! Thanks, Aunt Charm!" Jane beamed while the others nodded.
"Glad to be of help, niece!" Mrs. Sarkisian replied.
"Please no, Daddy! Mommy?!" Jake sputtered- exactly 37 minutes after the last time.
"He'll be a sitting duck if he's spotted in those glorified PJ's . Jane, Daria could you carry Mr. Morgendorffer to my bedroom? I've got something better in mind for him," Mrs. Sarkisian beamed as she noted Jake's LaStraw scrubs.
"So, do you know where they could be Helen?" Amanda asked while sipping mint tea in the Morgendorffer kitchen.
"I was hoping you'd know," Helen sighed while she slurped her cup a bit.
" Sometimes Jane and Trent would go over to my big sister Charm's place. She's always meant well but she's not quite with it,"Amanda noted.
"Really?" Helen asked.
"Yes, like when Trent spent six months in the back yard in that tent, against my wishes, Charm gave him a blanket,"Amanda shuddered.
"What's so. .? " Helen asked.
"An electric blanket! Trent didn't have the heart to tell her the yard had no outlet," Amanda sighed.
"Do you think Quinn's new defiance could be her way of pushing my buttons? Lately, we've been at war with each other. Scary thing is, I've been finding myself relishing the battles and punishments- just like my mother did!" Helen gulped.
"We all hold onto grudges with our parents. I never understood how parents could saddle me with a redundant sounding name?" Amanda groaned.
"Redundant?" Helen asked.
"You know before I married, it was Amanda Aranda [ah-RON-dah] but few in St. Paul pronounced the Spanish surname correctly so it was Amanda Aranda [a-RAN-da] and some meaner kids took my nickname of Mandy and tagged me Randy Mandy!"Amanda recalled.
"Yes, it's odd that parents would call their children redundant names," Helen nodded- realizing that Amanda was oblivious to her having done so with Jane.
"Come, Helen! Let's go find our children," Amanda insisted as she set down her tea cup.
Chapter 7: Catharses and Aftermath
"That's Uncle George's dress uniform!" Trent gasped.
"You've saved that 35 years," Jane added- as the group saw the sight of Jake dressed up in Corporal George Sarkisian's Army Uniform- after Mrs. Sarkisian opened her bedroom door.
" I know the shoes are a little big but the rest of it fits him fine. I can see in Jake's eyes that he's never had any dignity in his life. Well, tonight, this uniform will give that to him. Besides, what better armor to battle his old soldier dad who returned than the uniform of a young soldier who didn't? "Mrs. Sarkisian gulped.
The others swallowed a lump- Trent most notably.
"Come on, kids! We've got a mission to finish!" Mrs. Sarkisian rallied as she shook her right fist in the air while handing her bowling ball bag with her left hand to Trent to carry. He used to hate that when she'd do to him that but tonight he swallowed his pride and skipped the argument.
With Jane and Mrs. Sarkisian carrying Jake, the six of them made their way out of Mrs. Sarkisian's upstairs apartment, through Axl's Piercing and Tattooing Parlour onto Dega Street with Axl walking out with them.
"Look at all these cars! We'll never get the DeSoto out of its space!" Jane gasped- as they came upon a very congested street with honking cars barely moving.
"Looks as though they've been rerouted from the Ringstrasse gridlock!" Daria surmised.
"And it only took the city just under four hours to come up with this idea!" Jane scoffed.
"They worked extra fast!" Daria smirked.
"Gee, KaWinn! You let me get punished while you got to hang with all these losers!" Sandi sniffed as her convertible was inching by.
"I know you!" Trent sneered.
"I remember you,too. Loser. You played in that band at Brittany's party. The band whose soundboard shattered Brittany's crystal megaphone after Ka-Winn sat on it!" Sandi smirked.
"Hey, I spotted him the cash for that soundboard and don't you be calling my nephew a loser!" Mrs. Sarkisian boiled.
"It's okay, Aunt Charm! It's Daria's sister's acquaintance!"Trent scoffed.
"Hmmph, I have a name," Sandi boiled.
"Yeah- Daria's sister's acquaintance!"Trent restated.
"Ka_Winn, you're going to let him make me a nonentity- and link me to that cousin-sister whatever?!" Sandi seethed.
"Look, we don't want any trouble," Jane started to say.
" Too late! I'm going to speed dial Ms. Li and have her punish you right here and now!" Sandi smirked.
"Wait. .!" Quinn gulped.
"Meow!" Fluffy exclaimed as he jumped from the floor to the front seat- then into Trent's arms.
"Fluffy, what are you doing? You've never done that for anyone besides me- ever!" Sandi gasped.
" Sandi, why are you riding with your cat?" Quinn asked- while Trent stroked Fluffy's back.
"Oh, Mother found out she was allergic on Monday and she threatened to. . so I haven't dared leave him in the house," Sandi explained as she burst into tears.
"You've had him in your car all this time?" Quinn asked as Sandi nodded.
" Sorry to hear about that but we can't. .." Daria started to say.
"I've got an idea! Say, Aunt Charm, you think you could have Axl watch Fluffy while we put Quinn and Mr. Morgendorffer in Sandi's car? She could drive them to the Arcade then we could meet them there a little later," Jane exclaimed.
"Hey, I don't want any felines to. ." Axl sputtered.
"Don't sweat it! " Mrs. Sarkisian scoffed.
"But the landlord. .." Axl tried to add.
" He lets you stay here, Ringo!" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped.
"But I pay rent. ..when I can," Axl gulped after Mrs. Sarkisian glared.
"Please, Axl. We don't want him run over in the bowling alley," Jane insisted.
"Point taken. Alright, here ya go kitty! Stay away from the needles!" Axl insisted as Trent handed him Fluffy.
"So, you take us down there and help us out then we'll help you out!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"And what can you do?" Sandi scoffed.
"I can see to it that Fluffy lives to a ripe old age under your mother's roof. I've got her number!"Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"Well, some things are more important than gift certificates! Very well. Be brave, Fluffy. Mommy will come back for you soon!" Sandi said with a deep intake of breath.
"Besides, this gift certificate expired last year! I told Theresa to shred those instead of just tossing them in the trash, " Mrs. Sarkisian scoffed as looked at the Cashman's gift certificate Sandi handed her while she and Jane propped up Jake in the backseat while Daria joined them before Quinn settled in the front seat next to Sandi.
"Are you sure you don't want to join us, Mrs. Sarkisian?" Quinn asked as they arrived at the Arcade.
"Nah, video games are for kids- and besides I've gotta work on my pitching before the Alley closes. This is your game!" Mrs. Sarkisian exclaimed as she left Sandi's car.
"Thanks for the ride, Sandi. I hope you won't get in too much trouble at home," Jane conceded.
"I think I'll stay around. I guess I owe Mr. Morgendorffer that," Sandi sighed as the group carried Jake inside the Arcade.
"Your friends say to join them in the stockroom to set up a few things before we're ready," the Arcade attendant with long black hair proclaimed.
"Thanks, Vlad! Cool of you to close everything an hour early tonight for us,"Trent exclaimed.
"I wish I could give more time but it's gonna be hard enough to excuse the one hour to corporate HQ as it is," Vlad groaned as they went to the stockroom.
"He was born in Kiev and his parents were circus performers who defected here when he was a child just before the Wall fell,"Trent explained as Quinn opened her mouth to start asking about the Arcade attendant.
"Don't worry, Quinn. I was wondering the same thing," Daria shrugged.
"Oaky Doky, you've brought some help!" Ted DeWitt-Clinton exclaimed as he saw Sandi with the Lanes and Morgendorffers coming into the room.
"This is who's supposed to help Mr. Morgendorffer?! That geek who tried to keep the Fashion Club picture from the yearbook then left last year after acing his GED and. .a sole man?!" Sandi sneered- at the sight of Ted and Ethan huddled over a very complex and somewhat tangled mass of wires connecting a PC, two video screens,a VCR, Trent's mixing board and Jane's digital camera.
"Look, you don't have to be here. You can go home!" Ethan exclaimed to Sandi.
" Shove it, hippy whelp! I'm here for Fluffy, Mr. Morgendorffer and Ka-Winn!" Sandi sneered.
"You are? I hope you and Ethan learn to like each other soon because. ." Quinn beamed.
"Daria, I need your help on the project. Could you come with me for a few minutes?" Ethan insisted.
"Hey, it's my camera and I've got the artistic bent that could make the difference," Jane snapped.
" I can help!" Quinn exclaimed.
"What can you do?" Jane sneered.
"Provide inspiration!" Quinn proclaimed.
"Sorry,no time for catfights. I need Daria's assistance- and she needs to bring Mr. Morgendorffer! Ted can explain everyone else's roles," Ethan insisted as he lifted Jake once again over his shoulder and the three went to the small storage closet.
"That's some uniform he has on, Mom and Dad would freak! Could you hand me the ECG tabs?" Nathan laughed- as he took off the uniform cap and put the probes in spots atop Jake's head.
"Do you think you can reach Dad this way?" Daria asked.
" Ever since I could remember, my Mom and Dad would start the day with chanting and I used to scoff but then I realized they were using sound to both shut out what they didn't want to hear and focus on what they felt they needed to. Ted and I have been working on this for some time and we think that with the latest computer technology and electronics, we could take meditation to a higher plane and free even more lost souls like your Dad!" Ethan explained as he put more probes on Jake's head.
"Interesting hypothesis- and I have to admit that I'm excited about the possibility of seeing history made but is that the only reason you called me back here instead of the others?" Daria asked.
"You're more brainy than the others and. " Ethan started to say.
"And you want my advice about how to deal with Jane and Quinn. Until very recently, I would have urged you to go out with Jane just to hurt Quinn and have enjoyed her being on the bottom of the feeding chain but now I'm not so sure. .. " Daria sighed.
"Nah, if there was anyone in Lawndale I'd have hooked up with, it would be you," Ethan shrugged.
"No way!" Daria gulped.
"Sure I knew it the moment I saw you. I'd had that blowout with Gia back in Taos so Mom and Dad brought me to your house to see if I could hook up with you," Ethan recalled.
"Eep!" Daria squealed.
"Didn't mean to startle you," Ethan sighed- as he tightened more wires.
"Your Mom did say I had the eyes of a very old soul," Daria noted.
"She's right! It's not that I don't think Jane or Quinn aren't attractive but they pale compared with you- and not just on the inside,"Ethan exclaimed.
"So. .. why didn't you follow me after I ditched you and your folks at first sight? Oh, God! I'm sounding like Quinn," Daria groaned.
"I was majorly bummed out over Gia and I knew pestering you wouldn't win you over," Ethan explained as he handed Daria some sautering wire.
"So you don't hold it against me that I . .. snubbed you and your folks?" Daria asked.
"Believe me, there've been times I've done the same with them but I've learned they're good people who just need help coping with this world- and I'm hoping what I'm doing here will help them and others like them do that less destructively," Ethan exclaimed.
"I can't say I'm not flattered but now I've got a boyfriend who's due back tomorrow from Switzerland," Daria insisted.
"That's great! I'm happy for you! If you hadn't snubbed me, I wouldn't have returned to Gia . . .and I wouldn't be having the great life we have so Gia and I have a lot to thank you for!"Ethan beamed- at that moment a tiny cellphone rang.
"A cellphone? You've been holding out on me, Yeager!"Daria exclaimed.
" Gia! Great! She's right here! Let me put you on the line!" Ethan exclaimed as he kissed the phone.
"Yes, this is Daria Morgendorffer. . . so it wasn't a dream? You wanted him to kiss me on your behalf? But he didn't. .."Daria exclaimed in shock- recalling the 'dream' she'd had about Tom entering her room to kiss her.
"I wanted to but even with Gia asking me to, when the time came I couldn't kiss another girl," Ethan sighed.
" Oh, that's quite amazing! No, I won't say anything to the others until everything's ready," Daria exclaimed in shock as she handed the phone back to Ethan.
Meanwhile, was explaining what was happening to Jane, Quinn and Sandi.
". ..and that's how we think this'll help! Any questions?" Ted asked.
"Yes, do you think Ethan's asking Daria how to let Jane down?" Quinn piped up.
"Let me down?! I may not be 'Waif' material but I'm no mud fence. No doubt Ethan prefers someone stunning and artistic!" Jane snapped as she waved her fist at Quinn.
"Er.. ladies, " Ted tried to reply.
"Nah, let it go! At least til they help out!" Trent insisted as he stroked his goatee.
"You know something big! Spill it, Morgendorffer!" Jane insisted- as Daria re-entered the room shortly afterwards.
"Not until we finish with Dad," Daria insisted as Ethan brought Jake back into the stockroom.
"What are you doing to my Dad?" Quinn gulped, as Ethan hooked up the probes to the wires attached to the computer monitor and a TV set.
"Trent, can you focus on the frequency?" Ted asked.
"Sound's my life! I think I've got it!" Trent insisted as he adjusted his headphones and amplified what sounded like a dull humming sound.
"Where's that lame sound coming from?" Sandi asked as she covered her ears.
"Inside Mr. Morgendorffer's head," Ethan shrugged.
"What?" Sandi gasped.
"We discovered that intellectual thought uses electric impulses inside the neurons and impulses make sound so we're amplifying it a few million times then putting that through our computer program to translate to. ." Ted excitedly explained.
"It looks like . .. a television show!" Quinn gulped- as an image suddenly appeared on the TV set.
"Jake TV!" Daria gulped- in spite of intellectually knowing the entire process that Ted and Ethan had explained to her.
"It's showing what Mr. Morgendorffer's been stuck on these past four days," Ethan started to explain.
"This looks just like that time he kept replaying three seconds of him falling off the tricycle for days!" Daria recalled.
"Ew... who's that weird girl?"Sandi sneered as an eleven-year-old girl with red hair in sausage curls- and large glasses appeared onscreen.
"Dad's bullying older sister. Aunt Morgana Morgendorffer Phelps," Daria groaned.
"Let's see the whole thing he's experiencing," Ethan proclaimed while the others sat down and watched.
"Jakey, Morgana! Your father's car is around the corner! Don't forget your presents!" the brunette Ruth Morgendorrfer in a June Cleaver pleated dress is seen to exclaim as she took off her apron and put down the egg beater.
"But I wanna lick the bowl," 6-year-old Jake whined.
"Jakey, you'll give Daddy your cooties!" 11-year-old Morgana sneered.
"Maybe he'll like those!" Jake replied- as Morgana flicked his ear.
"OW!Mommy!" Jake cried.
"If you'd get along better with Morgana, she wouldn't pick on you. Quit your bellyaching!" Ruth groaned.
"Daddy will love my present!" Morgana sneered.
" Daddy always loves your presents but never mine," Jake groaned.
At that moment, the Edsel was seen to stop in the suburban driveway and Jake gulped as the entire car seemed to suddenly spring upwards as the car's driver emerged.
"He's enormous!" Jane gulped.
"He's gargantuan!" Quinn proclaimed.
"Are you like sure he isn't dead and married?" Sandi purred while the others looked at her askance.
" I guess a heart attack would KO someone that big," Jane pondered.
"No, it didn't. He died after he uprooted a redwood tree,the trunk slipped and it fell on his head," Daria recalled
"Oh, " Jane gulped.
"Not right away. Grandma Ruth was afraid he'd sustained a blood clot so she took him to the nearest hospital where they were ready to do exploratory surgery but he took one look at the razor they were going to shave his head with and fatally went into shock," Daria related.
Madoc 'Mad Dog' Morgendorffer emerged- all 6' 5" of his heavy set, muscular physique- with thick red Bryllcreemed hair and red beard completing the picture. Mad Dog carried his suit jacket, hat and tie inside while entering the abode.
" Ruth, I see you got everything ready for VJ Day!" Mad Dog exclaimed in a very deep booming voice.
"Maddy, Darling. You know I did the best I could- even though it meant I couldn't buy a girdle this month," Ruth groaned.
"If you just did military calesthetics and isometrics like I do, you wouldn't need one," Mad Dog patronized while hugging her.
" Daddy, wait til you hear my latest piano composition!" Morgana beamed.
"My little princess will surely find a worthy prince by charming those ivories," Mad Dog beamed while bending down to kiss Morgana's awaiting forehead.
"Daddy, I've got something," Jake gulped.
" What is it, Jakey, " Mad Dog groaned in a disapproving tone.
"Something real spendiferous!" Jake exclaimed as he brought in the gallon-sized bottle of Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox Aftershave on his Radio Flyer wagon.
"Aftershave?! I haven't used fancy men's perfume since those rotten Japs tortured me with razors!" Mad Dog boiled as he stroked his thick red beard.
"Just try it, Daddy! Please?! You'll be like all the other daddies on the block!" Jake proclaimed.
" You think I want to be like all those clean-shaven softies who couldn't survive two minutes without their pipes and sweaters? Let me tell you something, Jakey! I had to fight to get where I am and everyone else admires me for achieving my success but you want me to be like all those drones in this stupid suburb! " Mad Dog fumed.
"But, Daddy, if you just shaved. ."Jake exclaimed.
"Eric the Red didn't shave why should I?" Mad Dog sneered.
"Just. .." Jake pleaded.
"Here, you think this gunk is good? You wear it!" Mad Dog exclaimed- as he picked up the entire bottle, then squirted a large amount and rubbed it on Jake's head
"GAH!" Jake gagged at the stench.
"Since you think you know what's best for me, you can wear this to school every day until the bottle's empty!" Mad Dog boiled.
"Please, Daddy, no! Mommy?!" Jake gasped as he saw his parents walk out of the living room into the kitchen while Morgana stuck her tongue out at him on her way to her room- and at that moment the adult Jake was seen and heard to say exactly the same thing.
"Now, Maddy. .. . " Ruth was heard to say, while Jake stared at the blank television screen.
"John Jakey Morgendorffer Schmidt
His name is my name,too
Whenever we go out.
The people always shout
There goes John Jakey Morgendorffer Schmidt
Jake was heard to sing at the top of his lungs several times before the memory was seen to revert back to the beginning.
"It's a good thing that I only inheritted Grandpa Morgendorffer's red hair. I'd be too tall for the Fashion Club," Quinn gulped.
"An inch taller of you is more than enough for me," Daria declared.
"And, I for one, am glad dear Tiffany wasn't around to hear the senior Mr. Morgendorffer diss her mother's nationality," Sandi sniffed.
"Although, I can't say it's surprising he'd feel that way after the War, that was a bit callous so, for once, I have to agree with you," Daria groaned.
"Now, why would Jake have given his father aftershave if the man wore a beard?" Jane asked.
"You heard Grandpa Mad Dog. Jake wanted him to be like other fathers in the neighborhood," Daria pondered.
"I can't entirely blame him. Facial hair was most unfashionable back then," Sandi sniffed.
"He was annoying when he sang that childish song while his parents were talking," Jane groaned.
"Maybe they were talking about something he didn't want to hear. Remember what Aunt Charm said," Trent pondered.
"Yeah, but whatever it was is lost forever," Daria groaned.
"No, that's where Trent's going to help us! With that mixing board, he can amplify the parents' dialogue and tune down the song," Ted beamed.
"And that could be the key to everything!" Quinn beamed- as Trent eagerly started adjusting the controls.
"I just sent the last customers home. It's all yours now," Vlad proclaimed as he popped his head into the storeroom.
On the side of the Ringstrasse, Nathan and Noah were ransacking the Tank.
"No clue to where they could be? We've ransacked this van for nothing?!" Noah boiled.
"Wait here's something!"Nathan exclaimed as he saw an address book.
"In case of Emergency call Mrs. Charmaine Sarkisian at 555-4623, 596 #B Dega Street. We'll make her squeal!" Noah insisted.
"Sorry no more two-for-one specials- even for engaged couples," Axl sneered as Noah and Nathan entered the Piercing Parlour.
"We have witnesses that say fugitives were traced here! Lead us to them or we'll sic the INS on you!" Nathan sneered.
"Me Grandad didn't let the whole NAZI army intimidate 'im an' I ain't lettin' a coupla Storm Troopers get the better o' me!" Axl proclaimed.
"We've got the law on our side so don't try anything foolish" Nathan sneered.
"You didn't hear my friend!" Noah sniffed.
"And we're through being polite," Nathan added- as he put Axl in a headlock while Noah grabbed his nosering.
"Ya ne'er started!" Axl snarled while Noah pulled on the ring.
" We could turn you into more of a circus freak," Nathan snarled as he slammed Axl's head on the counter while Noah held onto the ring.
"Ya blokes don't get it! Pain don't have no effect on me!" Axl defied.
"But it would on the old broad Mrs. Sarkisian upstairs! Give us her key or we'll make things worse for her!"Nathan boiled.
" You leave 'er alone! She's been more of a Mum than me own! Kill or torture me all ya like but I'll never rat 'er out!" Axl boiled.
"We'll see about. .. " Nathan sneered as Noah was ripping Axl's nose ring out but then. .
"MEOW!!" the enraged Persian cat Fluffy yowled as he jumped from behind the counter and onto Nathan's head- ripping the uniform cap off.
"My hair! He's messing up my hair!" Nathan wailed.
"Get him off!" Noah pleaded- as he started to sneeze.
Axl broke free of Nathan's headlock and grabbed a baseball bat he'd kept behind the counter and started to chase them out the store when suddenly the football player Robert came by.
"Say, Axl! I heard that Quinn stopped in here on the way to the Arcade, you think she'd mind if I tagged along?" Robert asked.
"Oh, we were going to join her friends,too! We can give you a ride!" Nathan unctuously exclaimed -as he and Noah left with Robert.
"Stupid jock!" Axl spat- while Fluffy jumped into his arms.
"Good show, cat! If Mrs. Griffin won't 'ave ya back, ya'd make a good watch cat. I've gotta warn Charm an' the others!"Axl gulped as he picked up the telephone behind the counter.
"Meow, " Fluffy meowed concernedly and rubbed against Axl's arm while Axl stroked him.
"I know, me 'onker's bleedin' but we've got more pressin' things! Damn, the line's busy!" Axl sighed.
"As amazing a show it was for us to see Mr. Morgendorffer's theatre of the mind, how will that help him?" Sandi whined.
" You saw the television in the corner!" Ted insisted.
"Sure but. .."Sandi replied recalling the image of the Morgendorffer parental living room just shown.
"We're going to do our own therapy using 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie'! " Ted exclaimed.
"Hunh?" Sandi asked.
"Trent, Ethan and I have our ear pieces and mouth jacks, Daria, Quinn and Jane have their headgear while Mr. Morgendorffer has his full body suit," Ted added while they started to move into the now-vacated game room towards. .
"You mean, we're going to do virtual reality for real?" Sandi gulped.
"Yep! I've shown them Mr. Morgendorffer's tape and I think these three should do their parts well,"Ethan beamed.
"What parts?" Sandi asked.
"She sure is a quick study," Daria groaned.
"Tell me about it," Quinn sighed before throwing her hands over her mouth and evading Sandi's menacing glare.
"We're all going to go back to Jake Morgendorffer's childhood again but since none of us have been born yet, we'd be virtual space aliens to him but 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie' might get him to open up!" Ethan insisted.
"We're each going to stand in front of a booth- and through the imaging, sound filtering, we'll each be playing a part on Dad's TV. Isn't it cool, I get to be Fran! She's at least thirty but she's pretty,"Quinn gloated.
"Just what I always wanted to be, a bald man, puppet clown," Daria groaned seeing herself projected as Kukla.
"Hey, at least you're still human and have arms! But I gotta admit I kinda like being a puppet dragon," Jane beamed as she saw herself projected as Ollie.
"Even more than the lady and the tiger?" Daria asked.
"Drop it," Jane snapped.
"I've mixed up the sound so we can tune into the conversation loud and clear!" Trent insisted.
"You can't go in there, it's closed!" Vlad insisted to Ethan, Noah and Robert as they arrived in the LaStraw 'Birthday Buckaroos' van.
"Out of the way, comrade!"Ethan sneered.
"Don't make me go Chernobyl!" Vlad retorted.
"But Quinn said she'd play games with me next time she was down here and I see her in that booth," Robert whined.
"Not to worry. We'll crash this party and hook you up!" Noah insisted while Vlad kept trying to keep the others out.
For the readers who remember seeing 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie', I urge you to think of Daria, Quinn and Jane using those voices and having those appearances but everyone else just imagine two puppets on a tiny stage with a lady in front talking to them appearing on Jake's television. Or you can imagine Daria , Quinn and Jane with the virtual reality and arm gear- each standing on a pad while Jake's covered in an even more elaborate armor that Ethan and Ted have created that covers him while wires from it go back to the computer terminal that's hooked up to the virtual reality board.
" John Jakey. .. Eep! What are you doing here?" 6-year-old Jake asked as he saw them materialize and stopped the zillionth verse of his altered song.
"We're only in your imagination, Jakey," Quinn/Fran insisted.
"But we've been watching out for you and all the other kiddies since Day One," Jane/Ollie added.
"Daddy sure is mean!" Jake whined as he started to cry.
"Don't worry. You'll be okay!" Quinn/Fran consoled.
"But why did you give your Daddy aftershave when he has a beard?" Daria/Kukla asked while Jane/Ollie and Quinn/Fran nodded.
"Promise you won't laugh?" Jake begged.
"Sure!"all three on screen insisted.
"Because all the other Daddies don't have beards and they like their boys!" Jake cried.
"And you don't think your Daddy likes you?" Jane/Ollie asked.
"No, I don't! He hates everything about me but one day Mommy will make him see the light," Jake sobbed.
"Maybe you should listen to what he's saying instead of always trying to drown it out," Quinn/Fran insisted.
"What good will that do?" Jake sobbed.
"Can you feel any worse?" Daria/Kukla asked.
"Okay, you guys won't leave me, will you?" Jake gulped.
"No! We're here for you!" they exclaimed in unison.
"Ruthie, I tell you the kid's going to drive me into an early grave!" Mad Dog was heard to fume from the kitchen.
"Maddy, it's not so bad!" Ruth pleaded
" I've never seen anyone so highstrung. It's like coming home to Daffy Duck!" Mad Dog groaned.
"But what does it matter?" Ruth asked.
" My Papa was an Old World scholar who thought everything was inside books. I never learned anything about being an American, sports or teamwork from him. I had to send off for Charles Atlas to start my transformation," Mad Dog recalled.
"And it's a wonderful one, Maddy!" Ruth beamed as she hugged him.
"Then the War came and I got stuck behind enemy lines in the Phillipines. I had to become a virtual animal to survive that! All I thought about when they were torturing me is that someday, I'd come home to you and have a family," Mad Dog beamed.
"And you did!" Ruth exclaimed.
"The docs said you couldn't have anymore after Morgana but then we had a son and named him for your father Jacob Perlman. . . and every time I try to teach him to survive , he gets all chickenshit," Mad Dog groaned.
"Do you think he actually does love me?" Jake gulped.
" It could be. Why have you not wanted to hear it?" Quinn/Fran asked.
"Because I hate how mean he is and I wanna hate him back. . but I can't if he loves me. .at least he can keep me safe from everything else in the world," Jake gulped.
"What's the boy going to do when I'm gone, Ruthie?" Mad Dog asked.
"I'm sure he'll be alright," Ruth replied.
" I just hope he finds a woman who won't steamroller him,"Mad Dog groaned.
At that, everyone in the room shuddered and thought of Helen.
"You're concerned about him, Maddy. Does this mean. .?" Ruth asked.
"Yeah, I DO love him! You know, maybe I'll back off the aftershave punishment," Mad Dog pondered.
"Oh, don't do that! He'll think you're weak-willed. Besides, when you get angry at other people, it brings out the tiger in you and you know how much I like that!" Ruth chortled.
"Mommy. ..wants me to be punished?" Jake gulped.
Everyone in the room shuddered at what they'd just heard Ruth say.
"Oh, God! Grandma's just gone whichever way the wind's blown all this time," Daria shuddered on her private channel to Ethan.
"Everyone's 'ally' and the trap's bait. Not good. You think you can get Mr. Morgendorffer through this one?" Ethan asked on the closed-circuit.
" I'll give it my best shot," Daria gulped.
"Jakey, grownups often have their own hangups they haven't sorted out before they have kids but that doesn't mean that you can't go on with your own life- and it doesn't mean that they're all evil!" Daria/ Kukla insisted..
"Say, Jakey! Look what I've found. Poppies!" Mad Dog insisted as he ran back to the living room with bubble wrap and he and Jake wrestled with the cluster before leaving the room a minute later.
"Now tell him to think about what's happened for the next five minutes then, when it's time, he can wake up and not have to be a kid anymore," Ethan insisted on the closed-headset.
Fran/Quinn did so.
"That was fun! Are you leaving me?"Jake asked.
"We'll always live in your imagination- but you'll be able to find the strength in yourself to carry on!"Jane/Ollie insisted.
"Bye! Bye!" Jake waved to the set while the three appeared to wave back.
"Now what?" Sandi asked- a bit stunned by all these happenings.
"We need to give him time to absorb all this- and if we remove the devices too soon, we could lose him forever," Ethan gulped.
"Good, that's just what we wanted to hear!" Nathan sneered as he and Noah finally smashed the window panes.
"What are you doing?" Jane gasped.
" I was going to ask you why you're hanging out with this throwback!" Nathan sneered while Noah ran towards Jake.
"Oh, no you don't! Hah!" Ted charged forward from the platform and kicked Noah down.
Jane, Daria and Quinn struggled to take off their headgear.
"You think you can take us down? You're wrong! We've got you outarmed,"Noah insisted as he and Nathan pulled out guns.
"Hey, I thought we were going to crash Quinn's party not hurt 'em," Robert whined.
"Shut up! We don't need you anymore!" Nathan boiled and suckerpunched him.
"You're a thug, Nathan! " Jane boiled.
"At least I'm not a hippy throwback like this riff-raff here," Nathan sneered as he charged towards Ethan.
"Ethan's far more of a prince than you!" Jane snapped.
At that moment, Ethan jumped off the platform, over Nathan and Noah's heads as they ducked, landed on his feet,then slugged Nathan in the jaw, knocking him down. Ethan lifted Nathan off the ground with his right arm, put him on his right shoulder then started spinning around before lifting Nathan off his shoulder, extending his arms like a centrifuge then using Nathan to knock Noah off his feet.
"You're not so tough as you'd like people to think,"Jane sneered.
"But why, Jane? Aren't I better looking than this throwback? "Nathan wailed.
"Get over yourself already!" Jane boiled as she rushed towards his fallen form waving fists.
"Wait, you went out with him?Eww!!" Quinn shuddered.
"Sandi, don't you have anything to add?" Jane asked- seeing Sandi's blushing.
" I loved you, Nathan!" Sandi sobbed.
" What?! Eww!" Quinn cringed.
"Shut up, Quinn/KaWinn!" Sandi and Jane snapped.
"We can ditch these dregs! Come join us in our new world order. I can give you another chance, Sandi!" Nathan insisted- as he stood up and started to take her hand.
"Don't listen to him!" Daria,Quinn and Jane pleaded.
"You have to admit, he goes well with most my wardrobe!" Sandi pondered.
"Drop it! You two! You're both under arrest!" a police officer ordered as a squadron showed up.
"What?! We're the law! We're trying to apprehend this violent mental patient and these truants!" Noah insisted.
" Stand back everyone, or I'll unplug Mr. Morgendorffer. .forever!" Nathan sneered- as he grabbed the plug from the terminal.
"What?!" Quinn and Daria gasped.
"It's true. If Mr. Morgendorffer is unplugged prematurely, he'll never return to rational thought," Ethan gulped.
"We have some demands! Call the DA and have them drop any and all charges against us," Noah insisted.
Sandi walked up to Nathan then gave Quinn a knowing look.
"I have a demand!" Quinn insisted as she ran up towards Noah
"Oh, God," Daria groaned.
"What?" Noah asked.
"Don't blink!" Sandi insisted as she and Quinn each squirted Nathan and Noah with their jellyfish foundation crème.
"ARGH!! My face! My eyes! " Nathan sputtered.
"This stings worse than pepperspray!" Noah groaned as he clutched his face.
"We fashionistas are used to stinging pain for glowing skin," Sandi sneered.
"Take them away," Daria groaned.
At that moment, unnoticed by everyone, Jake pulled off his wiring and virtual reality head and armgear.
"Say, kiddo? What are we doing here?" Jake asked in an adult voice- much calmer than anyone had heard in ages.
"Dad!" Daria and Quinn exclaimed as they hugged Jake.
"Some sharp threads here. Ya know, I wish my Dad were here to see me in this uniform! I don't know why but. . after that long dream, I remember all kinds of good things he did for me that I've been blocking out for years!" Jake beamed.
"Jake!" Helen beamed while she and Amanda rushed to hug their children.
"Somehow, I have the feeling, I have you to blame for this!"Jane sighed to Daria.
"Mom, Mrs. Lane, how did you find us here?" Daria asked.
" Maternal instinct- and my police frequency scanner!" Helen gloated as she took out the small devise from her purse.
"Pardon the interruption, Mr. And Mrs. Morgendorffer but I must read these suspects their rights," Police Detective Winter proceeded.
"Suspects?" Helen asked while Detective Winter did so then answered her.
"Thanks to the detective work of Miss Lane, the elder Miss Morgendorffer and Mr. Ethan Yeager, we were able to smash an illicit organ-selling ring operated from LaStraw. We suspected they'd been giving patients some form of nerve toxin that destroyed their neurons but we hadn't been sure of what the toxin was or its pipeline but Mr. Yeager gave us the break,"40-something Detective Winter exclaimed.
"I came here Sunday to talk to Vlad about using the virtual reality for our project when outside, I was approached by Nathan Grubb here," Ethan recalled.
"I'd told you he'd been hanging around outside this building up harming my customers," Vlad groaned.
"We're sorry you didn't believe you," Detective Winter admitted.
"Jane, Sandi! You can't believe those freaks! I never tried to sell you anything like that!" Nathan gulped.
"I hate to admit it but he's right," Jane groaned.
"How do you think he was able to afford his fancy cars and suits?" Ethan asked.
" But he never approached me!" Sandi insisted.
"A perfect scam. He'd sell people he considered inferior the poison to get rid of them and live off the spoils but was too vain to not have some women around admiring his looks!" Ethan insisted.
"Daria, you can tell them that I never approached you. ." Nathan gulped.
" True but you knew that Jane would believe me if I said anything and you couldn't take that chance!" Daria insisted.
"Well, if he was going to sell to anyone, he'd have tried Trent and surely Trent. ."Jane scoffed.
"You don't have any reason to believe him!" Nathan sneered.
"That's just what he said when I told him I'd rat him out but I also told him that if he ever approached Janey or her friends with this stuff, I'd. .. see to it he never was able to sell again!"Trent groaned.
"Trent?! I would have believed you!" Jane insisted.
"Yeah, well, lately you've been hating me!" Trent groaned.
"Mea culpa, hermano! You know, as far back as I can remember, I knew you'd protect me from the big bad world. For you to do that for me even though no one did that for you, makes you even more wonderful. Can you forgive me for taking out my frustrations and being a bitch to you lately?" Jane beamed and kissed him on the cheek.
"It's okay! Just glad we're friends again! " Trent beamed as he hugged her shoulders and kissed her on the forehead.
"Sandi! We can work this out! You never loved me!" Nathan gulped as he was being cuffed.
" That's not true! I did love you! A handsome man who appreciated fine fashion and courting me. How could I not love you?" Sandi seethed.
"But, Sandi, his style's a few decades off," Quinn noted.
"I could have changed him," Sandi sniffed.
"I can go modern,Sandi! Quinn, tell your mother to pull all her strings to right this injustice!" Nathan pleaded.
"Oh, it's not just Mr. Yeager's testimony! We've got you on videotape detailing your connections and how you were going to help snuff out Mr. Morgendorffer then haggling with the LaStraw director about your cut of the spoils from the black market organ and hormone sales- We've raided and closed LaStraw and seized their files! 45 patients owe their lives and brains to Mr. Yeager's work,"Detective Winter exclaimed holding the microcassette aloft.
"Mrs. Morgendorffer, it's all been a misunderstand. .."Nathan gulped.
At that, Helen kicked him in his nether regions.
"I hereby recuse myself from representing you or LaStraw! If Eric doesn't drop your murder mill as a client, I'll resign from the firm!" Helen boiled and spat in his face.
"Mrs. Morgendorffer, my hair!" Nathan wailed- as he was cuffed and led away by an officer who read his rights.
"Too bad about Mr. Grubb. Now, if you officers will excuse me, I have an early shift. .." Noah shrugged.
"Not so fast. This is a two-part show! Mr.and Mrs. Morgendorffer aren't you curious as to why Mr. Barkman is working as a high-school security guard only months after running an online booming biz?" Ethan asked.
"Yeah, I thought you were booming," Jake pondered.
" Markets shift and. .." Noah gulped.
"He was running a pyramid scheme and had wanted to hire you to take the fall but you proved to be such a klutz at the 'Net that his other partners lost confidence in him and the bottom dropped out. Oh, and since they all bought their stock with cash advances from Oui-Swype-Ewe, everyone's in debt to their eyeballs!" Nathan related.
"A minor setback but I can have us back on. ." Noah insisted.
"So why was he working as a Lawndale High security guard?" Quinn asked.
"Where else could he find work that paid fast cash but didn't ask lots of questions- and who'd have looked for him there?" Ethan asked.
"Looked for him? Why?" Jane asked.
"Because his name isn't Noah Barkman. Take away the tatooed tan, white spike hairplugs and facelift and you get. .."Ethan pondered.
"Jonah Fishman! I remember you from TV-the junk bonds trial! You jumped bail and were sentenced to 40 years in abstensia for fraud but that was ten years ago!" Jake gulped.
"Officer, the lunatic rantings of a loser and some hippy spawn doesn't prove. ." Noah gulped.
"Does this look familiar?" Detective Winters asked as he opened his briefcase and revealed a used can of Ultra-Cola inside a sealed plastic bag while Noah virtually fainted.
"The FBI has the prints and DNA on file and since you manhandle cans and drool into your drinks, it wasn't hard to make a match, Mr. Fishman!" Detective Winters exclaimed.
"Anything to say, Fishman?" Jake boiled.
"How could Mom play such a cruel joke by naming me Jonah? And why couldn't I have had a full hair of head like you instead of having to get plugs?" Jonah Fishman AKA Noah Barkman groaned- as read his rights before he was cuffed and put in a separate squad car from Nathan.
"You sure nimbly climbed those roofs and air vents, kid!" Detective Winters exclaimed as he patted Ethan on the back.
"Funny, how no one checks air vents," Ethan shrugged.
"What a show! Mandy, I'm glad you didn't miss it!"Mrs. Sarkisian exclaimed as she ran to hug her baby sister.
"Charm! It's been a long time!" Amanda beamed.
"Too long!" Mrs. Sarkisian exclaimed.
"Nana!" Ethan exclaimed as he ran up to hug Mrs. Sarkisian.
"Nana?!" Jane and Quinn gasped.
"You mean that he's really David's or Ricky's son instead of. ." Jane gulped.
"Nah, he's a Yeager alright but he's David's son-in-law!" Mrs. Sarkisian beamed as she hugged Nathan back.
"Wait a minute! You mean. .?" Quinn started to ask.
"Your old girlfriend Gia. ."Jane added.
"Is really Mrs. Sarkisian's granddaughter Georgia?!" Quinn sputtered.
"My wife prefers Gia but is cool with Nana lapsing,"Ethan chuckled.
"Your granddaughter Georgia got married?" Amanda asked.
"Yeah, eleven months ago! Ethan's an emancipated minor and a prodigy! Already, his Off-Off-Override Cellphone Attachment has earned him eight figures this year!" Mrs. Sarkisian beamed.
"His token of affection?" Daria spat sarcastically to Quinn.
"So I had to pay $150 for it but he sent me the ad!" Quinn shrugged.
" And Gia and are I are having triplets in the next week or so," Ethan exclaimed as he and Mrs. Sarkisian hugged while Jane and Quinn nearly fainted.
"Yeah, my granddaughter's an odd one. She insisted she wanted to have a girls' vacation with her mother and mother-in-law two weeks before she was due so she sent Ethan with his dad to Lawndale to visit the Morgendorffers. Something about thanking you, Daria for spurring their attachment!" Mrs. Sarkisian beamed.
"Ted, did you know about this?" Quinn asked.
"Sure, I was his Best Man!" Ted laughed.
"He sure looked goofy in overalls and Ethan in his jeans and sandals but they said they wanted to look formal,"Mrs. Sarkisian recalled with a laugh.
"Trent, how long have you known about this?" Jane asked while Trent sweated.
"Ever since he dropped by the garage after Mr. Morgendorffer's Birthday Party, he and Ted were talking about his marriage, impending fatherhood and then when they mentioned Gia's maiden name. ." Trent groaned.
"Don't blame Trent! Gia has tons of aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides, I didn't realize that you were Amanda Lanes' children and Grandma's niece and nephew until Trent recalled the connection," Ethan proclaimed.
"We sent you an invite!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"Charm, we didn't get one," Amanda insisted.
"I went over that list with my daughter-in-law Chantal and I'm sure. ." Mrs. Sarkisian recalled.
"Oh,Man! We did get it but. .. one night at three AM I was inspired to write a song and couldn't find any other paper so I used the back of it," Trent groaned.
"I could kill you, Trent!" Jane boiled.
"Take a number," Mrs. Sarkisian added.
"Whoa! Janey,we had our lights cut off once because you drew on our electric bill," Trent sputtered.
" I was three!" Jane seethed.
At that Ethan's cellphone rang.
"How far apart? Don't worry, I'll be there! Look it's been great getting to know everyone here but I've gotta get back to Taos," Ethan insisted as he called another number.
"You mean?" Mrs. Sarkisian, Jane, Quinn and Amanda all said at once.
"Yep, her water broke-and I'm going back to coach her! Triplets on the way!" Ethan shouted with glee.
"But you'll never make it," Daria groaned.
"Georgia knows how to pick a man with resources! He'll make it!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"What's that?" Sandi asked.
"I didn't hear anything," Daria insisted.
"Good!" Ethan exclaimed as a ladder dropped out of the sky from a. . Stealth plane.
"So long!" Ethan yelled as he waved while climbing into the Stealth's cockpit while it hovered silently overhead then instantly zoomed away without a sound.
Wordlessly, Trent held and lit a Zippo lighter aloft while the others waved.
"He invented something for them once and they had that baby waiting for him at the airport so he could make it in time for his babies!" Ted shrugged.
"Mandy, what a day! With your five kids and four grandkids, your nine used to outnumber progeny but my twins, five grandkids and my triplet greats give me a perfect ten!" Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
"Are you alright?" Daria asked- a little while later.
" I fell for a married father!" Quinn shuddered.
" I fell for a relative!" Jane gulped.
" I snubbed a self-made millionaire!" Sandi groaned.
"Oh, Jake, you look so rugged in that uniform!" Helen cooed.
"Yeah, before we fool around, I need to tell Daria something," Jake insisted.
"Okay, honey!" Helen cooed.
"Yes, Dad?" Daria asked.
" Those whole four days, I felt I was in some weird nightmare reliving one of my worst times in childhood over and over but there was a moment when I heard you tell me I was the family's heart. Thanks, kiddo for everything you and everyone did for me! "Jake insisted.
"Daria, let me ask you something. While I appreciate you girls going the extra mile for your father, why didn't you and Quinn just tell me your Dad was in danger?" Helen asked.
"Mom, you weren't listening to anything we were saying anymore," Quinn sighed.
" I guess I wasn't. Everything was piling up on me so fast the only thing I had left to control was my rage towards you, Quinn!" Helen confessed.
"Besides, even if you did, what would you have done?"Daria asked.
" I'd have recused myself from LaStraw, and had them send your father back at the first chance," Helen insisted.
"Exactly- and LaStraw would have immediately covered their tracks so those dozens of other patients Straw would have still been in danger and all their victims before who'd suffered would have never had justice! " Daria explained.
" Charm, old girl am I glad to see ya in one piece!" Axl exclaimed as he hugged her with Fluffy climbing onto her arms.
"Ringo! Your nose!" Mrs. Sarkisian gulped-seeing the torn skin.
"It's seen worse. Besides, this feline got them two blighters outta me shop! Vlad tol' me they're bein' arrested. I'm gonna give 'em extra charnges," Axl insisted.
"Look, Axl, Quinn, everyone I'm sorry for having told those two about. ." Robert groaned while Axl and Quinn turned their backs on him.
"For ratting us to those awful hoods, I'm having you banned from the Popular Table. ." Quinn fumed.
"No! No!" Robert gasped.
"For one. .." Quinn started to say.
"Whew!" Robert sighed in relief.
"Month!" Quinn thundered- while Robert crumbled.
"Don't worry! It was an honest mistake! We're still friends," Ted insisted.
"Sandi! Why didn't you answer my pages?" Linda Griffin seethed as she stormed into the Arcade.
" Mother, I. .." Sandi gulped.
"So, you've sold these losers about that sob story about that sneeze-trigger being your only friend," Linda fumed.
"If you don't let him stay with us, I'll move out! It turns out I've got lots of friends!" Sandi beamed.
"What makes you think I won't call your bluff, ingrate?" Linda boiled.
"Because, you're running for Lawndale Business Women's Presidency. .and you wouldn't want it known about your time on. . The Cashman's List!" Mrs. Sarkisian interrupted.
"Mother, you were on The List?" Sandi gulped.
"What makes you think that that youthful indescretion would make any. .?" Linda sneered.
"It wasn't that youthful and you really want it known it was for shoplifting. .. a Pet Rock?" Mrs. Sarkisian gloated.
"Oh! Check and mate. Sandi, you and Fluffy are welcome back into our house with open arms," Linda groaned while sniffling as Sandi hugged her with Fluffy in arms..
"Mommy missed you! Did you behave?" Sandi asked as she hugged Fluffy who jumped out of Mrs. Sarkisian's arms into Sandi's.
"Your cat saved me neck! Wait'll I tell ya what that battle cat did to those two thugs," Axl exclaimed with glee.
" I know! He's been good at keeping my room Sam-and-Chris-proof all these years!" Sandi beamed.
"Helen, these kids have freed me of so much! I don't know how to thank all of you. You were terrific!" Jake beamed while Helen eagerly nodded.
"Trent, I want to thank you for helping Ted and Ethan and all of us with Dad these past four days," Quinn beamed.
"You did good,too. Quinn!"Trent laughed.
" Ahem!" Sandi sniffed.
"You,too, Quinn's friend," Trent chuckled.
" It's a promotion," Sandi shrugged.
The next evening, Amanda Lane had a visitor at her home.
"Charm. Jane's at school and Trent's asleep. He's making up for the previous four days with only eight hours sleep per day," Amanda explained as she opened the door.
"Nah, I came to see you this time!"Mrs. Sarkisian in her skirted green business suit insisted.
"Mandy, next month, I've taken the entire month off so we can drive out to Taos to see Georgia, Ethan and my great-grandtriplets. We'd better get there before their paternal grandparents try to teach them to roll hemp for things besides rope!"Mrs. Sarkisian wryly chuckled.
"I'm not sure," Amanda pondered.
"Come on, Mandy. We need to go for more drives," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"Charm,the last time you said that, you promised to take me to Disneyland," Amanda recalled.
"And I did," Mrs. Sarkisian nodded.
"But you stranded me on the Teacup Ride so you could elope with George!"Amanda groaned.
" How many other eight year olds in St. Paul got to have that happen?" Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
" I guess not many," Amanda pondered.
"Anyway, you always liked George. I like to think he started your taste in suave, swarthy Mediterranean men like Vinnie," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"Er. Vincent's family's English," Amanda noted.
"Only on his mother's side! Did I ever tell you what Mrs. Lorelei Lane told me while she drank the entire bottle of Armenian blackberry wine the Sarkisians meant for your wedding present back in '69? " Mrs. Sarkisian asked.
"No, I just remember she was very angry with me for marrying Vincent when I was four months pregnant with Summer," Amanda groaned.
" That old hypocrite! She was getting tired of being alone in that Midwestern crackerbox with those five older brats of Vinnie's while her husband travelled so when their Greek milkman offered to give her more than extra butter, she accepted," Mrs. Sarkisian laughed.
"What?! That would explain his mother's coldness and older siblings' hostility towards Vincent and our children. Do you think Mrs. Lane's ever told Vincent?" Amanda sputtered.
"I'm not sure but he spends a great deal of time photographing Greece. I think there may be some homing mechanism involved," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted.
"I think I will take you up on that ride. I'd forgotten how you've always kept a sharp eye on things. I'll bet Mama and Papa are excited to become double great-grandparents," Amanda pondered while Mrs. Sarkisian nodded before going into more detail.
On Thursday, Daria and Jane were walking to school.
" So it looks as though Nathan will be a smash in his orange jumpsuit in Maximum Security the rest of his life- and the School Board's paying for Axl's reconstructive stitches. I saw in the paper that Helen's firm has gotten her to lead the city's suit against those trucking companies for hiring those bozos who caused that Ringstrasse accident causing the gridlock," Jane pondered.
" And if those two ever come back within forty miles of Lawndale County, they'll be arrested," Daria grinned in that Mona Lisa way.
"You wouldn't have had a hand in that by any chance?" Jane asked while Daria quietly grinned.
" Oh, the Stealth got Ethan back to Taos in two hours and just three hours later, the triplets were born. They all weigh between six and seven pounds and all five of the younger Yeagers are healthy! Wanna see this photograph Ethan scanned and e-mailed from Taos of him and Georgia in bed holding their newborn triplets Xerxes, Esther and. . Darius? " Daria asked.
"Glad to see everyone's healthy and those boys sure do favor Ethan while Esther has Georgia's red hair but why those Classical Royal Persian names?" Jane asked- as she looked at Daria's color photo.
" I guess since Ethan's German,Irish and English and Georgia's Armenian, Spanish, Swedish and French-Canadian in ancestry, they wanted the triplets to be different. Still, I have to admit, it's kinda neat to have someone named after me," Daria blushed.
" Yeah, and Georgia sent me another e-mail telling me to thank you for snubbing Ethan so they were able to have another chance! This is too weird," Jane groaned.
"Hey, would have liked it had we clicked and he stayed in Lawndale with you and Quinn frustrated he'd chosen me over you two?" Daria pondered.
"Nah, but are you sure you aren't bummed that you're not the one married to the teen tycoon supporting his flaky parents?" Jane asked.
"Me a teen bride mother with Yeager in-laws? Please! Besides, I'd have missed some fun times here with you and Tom!" Daria recalled.
"Yeah, Georgia's got triple diaper duty! She may wind up envying me after a few dozen 4AM triple feedings!" Jane shrugged.
"So you'll be okay with your unrequited love?" Daria asked.
"It's something we artists have put to good use for centuries! My Ethan Period could go down in history!" Jane mused.
" You got your muse after all!" Daria pondered.
"Yeah- and this time I've kept my best friend,too!" Jane beamed- as she patted Daria on the shoulder.
After a pause.
"So how's Princess Grace taking this?" Jane asked.
"Quinn's volunteering at Cedars of Lawndale so she can speed the 3 J's recovery!" Daria related.
"Who'd have thought? Quinn and I falling for the unavailable prince in bum's clothing while Sandi and I were courted by the creep in prince's threads! Kinda moronic that I'd share tastes with those two," Jane laughed.
"Mom took Quinn's share of the reward and has paid off the 2nd mortgage and most of Quinn's debts," Daria related.
"Positive," Jane replied.
"But our college fund is still empty so I'll have to make my own way in the Ivy League," Daria groaned.
"Big negative. Your mother held Ms. Li's hiring of Noah Barkman without checking references over her head so Ms. Li's erased my, Quinn's and Sandi's suspensions from the permanent record," Jane related.
"Positive, and Ms. Li persuaded Ms. Barch not to flunk you for being a day late with the term paper," Daria insisted.
"But Ms. Barch is taking off a whole letter grade off the top for it. Thanks, a lot, Morgendorffer," Jane snapped.
"Your welcome. Negative," Daria groaned.
"And since Georgia's married Ethan and born his triplets, I'm going to have to deal with Ethan being part of my family forever," Jane groaned.
"Hmm." Daria considered.
"Okay, maybe that's not really a negative but what about the Yeagers senior being in our lives thanks to his link?" Jane asked.
"Good point. Negative, "Daria groaned.
"So did your mother hear anything from Eric about LaStraw?" Jane asked.
"Yes, she did get Eric and the firm to drop them but she's having to pay back her share of the commision. At least the state's closed it down permanently and they're going after that whole organ and hormone selling black market ring. Too bad it makes legit, voluntary organ donation look bad," Daria groaned.
"Negative and speaking of negative, the four of us having to stay til 8PM yesterday to make up for missing Tuesday's classes," Jane groaned.
"But this has given Mom and Dad more time to catch up and I'm glad to see that Dad's starting to let go of his flawed parents," Daria insisted.
"Big positive- as is Trent getting the Tank back in one piece after all that happened. So is Tom back from Switzerland yet?" Jane asked.
"Yeah, but he got into an impromptu yodelling contest at the Zurich Customs right after their plane landed so he couldn't join the debates due to the resulting laryngitis and his debate team captain restricted him to his hotel room the whole week there," Daria groaned.
"Whoa! Big negative. Still, neither of us had to be around for yodelling or its aftermath, amiga." Jane pondered.
"Positive and I can hardly wait to tell him about what happened while he was gone. He won't be able to get a word in edgewise, " Daria shrugged.
"And you could turn this thing into a great short story that I could illustrate for you!" Jane eagerly noted.
"I've already started it and I think I have the perfect title for it. .." Daria beamed with her Mona Lisa.
Ending Disclaimers: 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie' ran on NBC and CBS in various forms for decades and I hereby salute the late Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison for bringing magic to children getting their first taste of the world through television. If any of their survivors happen upon this fanfic, know that their talent will always be appreciated.
A Special Salute for Karen Disher who appears to have been a Jill-of-All-Trades for 'Daria'- and was rewarded through a silent background character with her name and appearance being created by her grateful coworkers. My depiction of the character of her name in no way infers that that the actual Karen Disher would do the actions or share the tastes of her fictional counterpart.
Again, thanks to Glenn Eichler and Abby Terkuhle for making it all possible.
And,last but by no means least, a Special Thanks to Martin J.Pollard for his website and patience with us fanfic authors.